West Seattle “Shop Cats”: Meet West Seattle Nursery’s Seth

WSB contributing reporter Keri DeTore asked us the seemingly harmless question: “What do you think about featuring some of West Seattle’s ‘shop cats’?” We almost fell all over ourselves yelling YES! Here’s Keri’s introduction, followed by the first profile:

Keeping the books warm and the mice away; drinking from fountains, greeting customers and saving other cat lives by being blood donors. West Seattle has a number of businesses featuring these furry co-workers who help with rodent control and even have their own fan clubs. We’ll be sharing the stories of these feline friends from time to time.

By Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

West Seattle Nursery’s shop cat is Seth: “Everything’s for sale but the cat.”

(photo courtesy West Seattle Nursery)
As he lounges in his nest at the West Seattle Nursery counter, you’d be forgiven for questioning the “feisty” description many of the folks who work with Seth have given him; but reach out a hand and look what happens — you might be delicately hooked by a slender claw and brought closer for inspection:

He’s probably just making sure there’s enough dirt under your fingernails.

As many cat owners know, we don’t choose cats, they choose us—which is exactly what happened seven years ago at the Nursery. General Manager Marcia Bruno recalls the day she was out pricing cat statuary, only to find a skinny kitten curled up among them in the sun. She liked the irony of a real cat among the sculptures and took a photo. The kitten stayed. After three days, Nursery employees posted flyers in the neighborhood and took the cat to the vet to try to identify him. With no response to their flyers, employees asked owner Mark Smith if they could keep him. The kitten immediately began earning his keep by being a good mouser; since his arrival, mice no longer forage in the rootstock in the back room.

Seth got his name from a former Nursery staffer who wanted an Egyptian-sounding name to reflect the Abyssinian-looking markings in his fur. “Set” was an Egyptian god said to rule storms, darkness and chaos—sort of like our weather. And so, “Seth” came to rule his domain at West Seattle Nursery.

Staffer Ingrid Nokes is known as Seth’s “Momma.” She feeds and waters him, and when she’s gone on vacation he looks for her, walking around and mewing. She says: “He’s our little boy. It’s so nice to have someone waiting for you when come in and open the door in the morning.”

Seth has his own schedule and duties: meet morning staffer at door, go out. Monitor grounds until noonish, return for afternoon nap—all afternoon.

Wake up, pull off some pricing labels with teeth and drop them on the floor. Back outside to assist with projects, pose elegantly next to statuary, then return for the night at closing time. (This last bit gets confusing when seasonal closing times change.)

Seth also has his fan club who come by for regular visits—especially the Growing Gardeners kids club who read stories about Seth written by staffer Linda Hornberg in their newsletter. Like the story about the time Seth opened a twist-off lidded jar to get to the doggie treats inside. Linda says: “If you have an animal, people love coming to see them—the kids love him.”

And when customers ask whether a particular display or potted plant is available the staffers all respond: “Everything’s for sale but the cat.”

Next West Seattle Shop Cat coming up later this week. Yes, we’ll get around to West Seattle Shop Dogs too. Want to make sure we know about your shop mascot? E-mail us – editor@westseattleblog.com – thanks!

39 Replies to "West Seattle "Shop Cats": Meet West Seattle Nursery's Seth"

  • B-squared March 30, 2009 (7:32 pm)

    i like seth, he has some cattitude. but i still miss cleo from video vault:(

  • Elisabeth March 30, 2009 (7:58 pm)

    Really nice story! Thanks so much for thinking of this idea. I hope you’ll do a piece on what’s his name at the Lien Animal Clinic. He presides over the place from his cozy basket on the front counter, is a blood donor, and makes the patients feel a little more at ease. Looking forward to the dog articles too!

  • Carol March 30, 2009 (8:01 pm)

    Great story about Seth. More, more!

  • pigeonmom March 30, 2009 (8:20 pm)

    *thumbs up* :-D

  • christopherboffoli March 30, 2009 (8:47 pm)

    I adore cats. I’d definitely be apt to patronize places that have cats in the house. Thanks Keri for bringing this to the forefront.

  • cathy March 30, 2009 (9:16 pm)

    Cute series. I’m looking forward to meeting the other cats.

  • Johnston March 30, 2009 (9:27 pm)

    That would be Flower who presides over the Lien Animal Clinic reception desk from her comfy basket. They also have Miss B. (Beverly) and Peggy the 3-legged cat in residence. I hope they get featured in this series too! They are my (and Bella Luna’s) vet and they are absolutely wonderful! If you are looking for veterinary care, I cannot recommend them highly enough! Wonderful doctors, staff and kittehs!

  • Bettytheyeti March 30, 2009 (9:52 pm)

    “Please may we have more!” Win win for cats/dogs and people who work together. I too like to shop where the cat/or dog is in house.

  • The Velvet Bulldog March 30, 2009 (10:04 pm)

    Johnston: Hat tip for LOL Cat “kitteh” reference.

  • p March 30, 2009 (10:07 pm)

    there are lots of businesses in west seattle with pets, cats, dogs, fish, birds, etc. Its really fun to have them around, makes for a fun day because they are always doing something funny.

  • WSB March 30, 2009 (10:12 pm)

    West Seattle Blog LOLcats to follow:
    “I iz on yr website, takin over yr homepaje”
    (although as longtime cat people, we don’t think cats would really talk like that, nor would they engage in misspelling!) – TR (on behalf of Miles and Sweetie, technically “WSB shop cats” since we are based at home … as seen on YouTube during a recent Flip camera test http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV8qNRaMOow )

  • iggy March 30, 2009 (10:17 pm)

    Will have to go meet Seth. I live in a condo and don’t garden these days, but years ago West Seattle Nursery had another cat named Ficus. He started getting grumpy in his old age, and I believe the owner retired him from his job as store cat. West Seattle Art and Frame also had a wonderful, large cat for years. He would sleep in the aisles and always loved to be petted. Eventually, he also got old and grumpy and went home with the owner to retire. And, B squared, thanks for reminding me about Cleo. He was quite playful and it was nice to have company while looking for a video.

  • Johnston March 30, 2009 (10:38 pm)

    TR: Yep…those are cats! They seem to be working perfectly! I’m sure they are as loved as my girl.

    And really…they’re terrible spellers!

  • SLS March 30, 2009 (11:31 pm)

    Perhaps Seth just wants to has his cheeseburgerz.

    I must pass the test with him because he often seeks me out when I’m there and he’s up & about, or he let’s me love on him when he’s inside. I like to pretend that he knows I haves plant addiction; sort of my own “I can has plants & flur-ers.”

  • Kevin March 31, 2009 (1:30 am)

    Check out http://www.shopcat.com for more cats at work.

  • Keith March 31, 2009 (6:46 am)

    Great article/series! If you ever get around to dogs, I would love to know more about that friendly pooch who always seems to be “smiling” in the window of West Seattle Coins.

  • Kayleigh March 31, 2009 (7:37 am)

    Very cute! Want mo’ shop kittehs storiez.

  • KatherineL March 31, 2009 (8:08 am)

    More, more! Nice work, Keri.

  • Kimberley March 31, 2009 (8:23 am)

    Awesome piece, can’t wait to read more. Does anyone have any information regarding how a cat or dog can become a bloody donor, since I can’t give blood (I could possibly have mad cow disease or something), I’d love to look into my animals donating.

  • bridge to somewhere March 31, 2009 (8:35 am)

    cool article!
    i like the cat at roxbury auto parts — kind of a funny disconnect to seem him playing among the auto parts and around the legs of dudes who have been working on cars all day . . .

  • austin March 31, 2009 (8:51 am)

    Great idea, outstanding article. Seth in the pots is awesome. Ilke says Yes.

  • West Seattle Nursery moms March 31, 2009 (9:43 am)

    Thank you Kari for the great article! Seth just won’t shut up about it. Now he’s going to be impossible to live with (inflated ego and all)

    Marcia B.

  • Jilly Eddy March 31, 2009 (9:52 am)

    Wonderful article, full of warmth, humor and fun information. The excellent photos add a nice touch too. I will be forwarding this to my animal loving friends. Looking forward to your next article.- Jilly

  • AJP March 31, 2009 (10:36 am)

    Great information, thanks! I’m terribly allergic to cats so I’ll be sure to not go to these places, or just run in and run out and try not to touch anything. Last time I went to Aaron’s Bicycles I paid for it all afternoon.

  • d-san March 31, 2009 (10:37 am)

    More, more! What a great break from much of the bad news we get everywhere else …

  • Julie March 31, 2009 (10:51 am)

    I miss Art from Northwest Art and Frame, and Nutmeg from Petco. White Center Branch Library had a cat, too–and a rabbit, at one time.

  • miws March 31, 2009 (11:43 am)

    Marcia B, I can just see it now. Come the warm summer weather, Seth will be lounging in his nest, with at least two people fanning him with palm fronds! ;)



  • alki_2008 March 31, 2009 (11:58 am)

    Hey AJP, was wondering the same thing. Not dissing the idea of pets in the workplace (we had an office dog for a while until a co-worker’s allergies couldn’t handle it anymore)…but just wondering if stores with pets put up signage or not to let incoming patrons know about animals in-house? Seems like liability might become an issue without such signage?

  • p March 31, 2009 (1:40 pm)

    We have a sign on our door so that people know to shut the door so our cats don’t get out. I do ask people before they come if I know that they are coming if they have issues with cats. So, some businesses are sensitive to the allergy issue.

  • TeresaP March 31, 2009 (2:26 pm)

    Great story, we just had to put our office cat down after having him since 2003. He was loved by everyone and last Monday was a very sad day.

    I found that the cat bonded certain people together and I support it 100%. And we had NO SIGN. We are not a retail business but I suppose in this sue happy world we live in, it is not a bad idea.

  • alki_2008 March 31, 2009 (2:42 pm)

    Hi TeresaP, yeah – when the economy lags and jobs are hard to come by…then people seem to seek any opportunity available to file a lawsuit. We were pretty bummed out when one co-worked had to stop bringing in their dog because of another co-worker. :(

  • alki_2008 March 31, 2009 (2:43 pm)

    Oh yeah – I guess bites and scratches could also become fodder for lawyers. Would business’ insurance policies cover animal cases? Just something to think about, I guess.

  • linda h. March 31, 2009 (8:55 pm)

    I am allergic to the perfume of most flowers, yet tomorrow marks my thirteenth anniversary of working at West Seattle Nursery. If you love plants enough, you get over it!!! And if you love cats enough, like my sister ( who was once weepy after half an hour of visiting at my house) you get some allergy shots. (She now sleeps with one Persian and three Birmans.) No April Foolin’!!!

  • alkigirl March 31, 2009 (11:40 pm)

    Miles and Sweetie – Well Done regarding your demeanor as your ‘dad’ was attempting to persuade you to ‘act cute’ so he could post it on the net. You are clearly very fine felines, indeed. Thanks for all your support for the WSB staffers they are doing great work in the world. Meowwww!

  • West Seattle Nursery moms April 1, 2009 (1:15 pm)

    I <3 u Seth. You are my cat away from my cats. Good job big boy.


  • sethrocks April 1, 2009 (1:29 pm)

    I love Seth! He is so chill and friendly. He really is a great part of the Nursery!

  • Keri DeTore April 1, 2009 (10:09 pm)

    Author’s Note: It was brought to my attention that in this story profiling Seth, I mistyped West Seattle Nursery owner Mark Smith’s name. I truly regret the error and apologize to Mr. Smith. Keri DeTore

  • KateMcA April 2, 2009 (8:28 am)

    Yes! This is a great series. One of the things I love most about living in Seattle is how pet-friendly it is, and I love seeing the kittehs at work and play! :)

  • Joe April 2, 2009 (1:47 pm)

    I miss the somewhat overweight Cleo (my wife called her CleoFATra) from the Video Vault too. She always came up to me to say hello and helped me pick out a few movies by knocking them down in front of me. Her taste in films was not very good but I always enjoyed seeing her, and I second the motion to visit Flower at the Lien Animal Clinic, she’s a sweetie!

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