JACKSON, MI – She goes by Kibby Cat, the Shabby Cat or just Mama Kitty, but whatever her name, this feline resident is becoming an icon at Jackson’s Kibby Cobb Plaza.
Michelle Moore has owned Not So Shabby, Oh! So Chic., located at 2624 Kibby Road in the plaza for around nine years. Since then, a cat has always wandered around the property, she said.
Moore used to keep clearance furniture, such as dressers, outside the store in the back for customers to browse through. Years ago, when a customer was going through an item, she was met with a cute surprise when she opened a drawer, Moore said.
“She said, ‘Do you know you have kittens back here?’ Moore said. “That confirmed it for me that she has been living here, and we moved into her home.”
That was the beginning of this long-time friendship between the cat and store owners at the plaza, she said. They later found the kittens new homes and got Mama Kitty spayed to prevent more kittens from happening.
Since the cat has made the plaza her home, none of the store owners wanted to remove her from where she was comfortable. So, they started to feed her, leave out water and eventually put up a heating pad for her in the winter, Moore said.
“I’m a huge animal lover, I don’t know how I couldn’t take care of her – We moved into her turf,” Moore said.
Now, it’s a team effort to take care of the cat, with each of the store owners taking turns buying her food, or giving her scraps. Owners of Kibby Cobb Liquor and Deli, Ironbark Brewing Company and Prestige Hair Design all help, Moore said.
Prestige Hair Design owner Haley Applegate has been in the plaza for two years. Often, she will hear the cat meowing outside of her salon’s back door, indicating her bowl is empty and she’s ready to be fed, she said.
“Sometimes she will come into the back breakroom and I’m like, ‘Oh, that means she’s hungry,’” Applegate said. “And when Mama Kitty comes to my door, I feed her.”
A Jackson Public Schools student donated a box, specifically for feral cats, that was made for a school project for the kitty to stay in, which she uses from time-to-time, Moore said.
Even through the years, Mama Kitty is still very shy, but loves the attention, Moore said. Usually she will stop by and have conversations with the store owners, she said.
“We hope with love and food that she will love us enough to let us pet her,” Moore said.
The store owners love having the cat around, as most of them are animal lovers. They especially love that the cat brings them together and gives them something to bond over, Applegate said.
“That’s my favorite part, that we all work together to make sure she has her food, water and needs,” Applegate said.
The store owners hope one day add a mailbox to the corner so people can drop off letters or food for Mama Kitty, Moore said.
“She’s part of the family here,” More said. “She’s really well known.”
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