Seven years ago, Scott Metz, his father Larry and their team at Northern Lighting in Westerville, OH, played a prank on cat-loving employee Kerri. They bought a cage and a cat toy and tricked Kerri into thinking they were getting a cat. Little did they know that cage and toy would find a use. Two years later, another employee, Mel, had a cat with a litter of kittens, and she asked Metz's father, Larry the store owner, if he'd like to adopt one. After the prank they'd played on her, he decided that it was only fair.
It's now been five years since Lumen the cat came to live in the showroom, and Metz and his team can't think of a better addition, but having an showroom pet isn't all fun and belly scratches. The responsibility of owning a pet remains. Here's how Lumen fits into her home - and what you should consider before adopting a cat or dog to live in your showroom.
Living with Lumen
Every morning at about 8:45 a.m., Metz arrives at the showroom and flips on the lights. As they come on, Lumen strolls out to greet him. It's the only time of the day she seems really active, and that's mostly because she knows Metz will feed her and let her out the backdoor. Though Lumen is free to roam, she never goes too far. Before the showroom opens for the day, Lumen will usually go in and out about six times.
Most days, Lumen lives a pampered life. She naps throughout most of the day, and she greets customers, who are almost always willing to scratch her head. When it's warm outside, Lumen enjoys napping just outside the front door.
When she's not out front, staff members can usually find her snoozing in their chairs.
"She will sit on different person's desk chair every day, and most of us will move that chair and get another one as not to disturb her," Metz explains. He and his staff love spoiling her, and they affectionately refer to her as "Princess," "Spoiled" and "Stuck Up."
Tips for Keeping a Showroom Pet
Having a pet in the showroom can be a lot of fun for your staff and your customers, but the decision to keep a pet should be made with special care. Not all dogs and cats enjoy the showroom environment, and not all employees love animals.
Before you adopt a dog or cat to live in your showroom, make sure you have a plan for the animal's care and wellbeing while it's in the showroom. Cats, like Lumen, can be left on their own for a few days, but you will need to take your dog home every night. You'll also need to consider the animal's care throughout the day, mainly scheduling feeding times and bathroom breaks. Metz keeps Lumen's litter box in the warehouse away from customers.
Cats and dogs especially need exercise time.
"Try to get the animal to play an hour a day or so," Metz says, "It's is tough because you are on the clock."
Not all animals fit into a showroom environment well. Shy cats may be miserable with so many strangers coming in and out, and a hyper dog that loves to bark and run around may be more distracting than fun. While raising a puppy or kitten in such an environment can better acclimate it, it's a lot to take on for any staff, though as Metz's team shows us, it's not impossible. If you are adopting from a shelter, talk with the adoption coordinator and explain where the cat or dog will be living. He or she may be able to recommend an animal that would be a good fit for your showroom.
You will also need to consider allergies. Some cats and dogs, such as poodles and shih-tzus, do not shed, so allergies won't be an issue. Metz says two of his employees are slightly allergic to cats, but they make sure to wash their hands after they pet Lumen. Not everyone's allergies, however, are mild, so you may need to have a plan in case a new employee has an allergy.
But then again, maybe not.
"Lumen has tenure," Metz jokes.
Do you have an office or showroom pet? We want to see them! Tells us about them in the comments or send photos and descriptions to [email protected]