CRESTVIEW — Fletcher and Lilli McDaniel visited the Consolidated Ace Hardware Store for the second time this week.
Their mother, Betsy Quarrier, was there to shop, but as far as the 5- and 2-year-old were concerned, the trip was a chance to play with Clark and Kensington, store kittens.
COME FOR THE KITTENS
The female, 5-month-old felines are a favorite attraction for customers, store manager Pete Elkins said.
Fletcher said he can relate.
“I love cats,” he said.
And that was fine with Quarrier.
“This gives them something to do while I’m looking around,” she said.
The kittens — fixtures at the North Ferdon Boulevard store since they were 5 weeks old — have even brought out the kid in adult patrons, Elkins said. He saw a woman lying on the store's floor while she played with the kittens.
“The customers just love them,” he said. “People will come here and not buy anything; they will come to see the kittens.”
CARING FOR KITTENS
So, how did it all begin? Well, a cat that lived outside the store gave birth to a litter of four.
Customers enjoyed the kittens so much that management decided to bring the kittens inside, Elkins said. He personally cares for one kitten born with partial paralysis. The other kitten died during birth, he said.
Store staffers, who wash and feed Clark and Kensington, provided a litter box, flea collars and medicine.
The kittens' presence keeps staffers smiling and morale high, assistant manager John Gorman said.
“(The kittens) create a better atmosphere for all the associates,” he said.
So, why did the store name the kittens Clark and Kensington?
It's simple: Both names are brands of paint sold in the store, staffers said.