California Forum

Norm the Cat, #mayorofmidtown, still seeks belly rubs

The word on the sidewalk at 14th and Q streets was that Norm Lopez – #mayorofmidtown – was moving from his well-known position in the sun. What? No! Say it’s not so!

With at least a dozen visitors each day, which translates into as many belly rubs, what was a neighborhood to do?

Norm the cat is part of the daily routine for many light rail travelers and state workers on lunchtime outings. As one of Norm’s neighbors for several years, I look for him daily as I scooter to work. Just a glimpse of the large white-and-orange mound makes me feel all is right with the world, and with Sacramento.

What is it about animals that gives them the ability to bring a community together and make a few blocks feel like home?

Norm’s social media fame began two years ago, when a do-gooder thought he was pregnant and about to give birth and rushed her, er, him to Front Street Animal Shelter. Now, Norm has 7,200 Facebook friends.

When his human mom moved to a new job in another state two years ago, a neighbor two doors down offered to take over the love and care of the cat celebrity. Always with sidekick Six, a feral-ish Russian blue with sort-of six toes, Norm remained on the block, where he could usually be found basking in sunbeams.

Then a couple weeks ago on Facebook, Norm posted his pending second move. What followed was nothing short of concern, grief and a huge shift of cat karma in the neighborhood.

Stopping to say my goodbyes on what was supposed to have been his last Friday night on 14th Street, I found Norm alone on his sidewalk as the Delta breeze started to stir the leaves. As usual, he started to purr and lick my hand. I planted a lipstick kiss on his forehead and made some pictures. And then the Norm parade began.

First Megan and Brandon Wolfe came to say goodbye. Norm was a special guest at their wedding two years ago.

Then Jason and Kai Neyer strolled by with their 13-month-old son, Cameron. We sat in a semicircle on the warm sidewalk with Norm. In his son’s stroller, Jason carried a Ziploc bag with a cat brush, treats and chalk. With brisk intention, he drew a white chalk line around Norm’s reclined posture, completing it with “Good Luck, Norm!”

Our goodbyes didn’t last long. Overnight, a new neighbor surfaced. Word on the sidewalk? Norm is still available for continued belly rubs. Sidekick Six is now an indoor cat. Norm’s new BF is a dog, Miss Bubbles.

Seeing pictures on Facebook, it looks like love. All is right in the neighborhood.

Sue Morrow, @suelmorrow, 916-321-1190, is The Bee’s assistant multimedia director. Follow Bee photography coverage on Instagram @sacbeephotos. Norm’s video is at sacbee.com/video.

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