Capitol Alert

State worker volunteers sought for ‘Capitol Kitties’ help

In this 1998 file photo, the original “Senator Kitty” strides toward the south entrance to the state Capitol building.
In this 1998 file photo, the original “Senator Kitty” strides toward the south entrance to the state Capitol building. Sacramento Bee File Photo

Forget gubernatorial pooch Sutter Brown’s dog walker: this animal-based state Capitol gig is feline focused.

Sacramento policymakers at times rue their vote-whipping work by likening it to herding proverbial cats. As it turns out, feeding literal cats could also be in a lucky state employee’s job description.

“Our Capitol Kitties in our park need permanent feeders for Saturdays and the second and fourth Sundays of each month,” a posting in the Senate Daybook explained, noting that “Feeding the Capitol Kitties has been a tradition undertaken by legislative and state agency staffers for more than a decade.”

Rewind to 2005. Feral cats living in Capitol Park had produced a proliferation of kittens – “they were bringing them in by the boxes,” recalled Assembly Rules Committee staffer Sandee Felley – so Felley and a colleague learned how to trap the cats. They managed to find homes for 66 kittens.

But a few feral veterans still roam the Capitol grounds and get fed by a rotating roster of volunteer state workers (a longtime resident named Senator Kitty died years ago and is featured in a children’s book). Helpers purchase the food themselves and have been supplying water as well since the drought led grounds managers to drain a pond on the Capitol grounds.

“They’re friendly to their feeders. They greet them,” Felley said, although the Capitol kitties give a cooler reception to domestic cats occasionally brought by for a visit. “The ferals,” Felley said, “don’t take kindly to newbies like that.”

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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