A jet-black, "slightly overweight" cat named Storm (or Stormy, depending on who's talking), who "loves cat treats" as well as "a nice quiet evening at home with her newly captured Mousy," is being evicted from her home of six years, a general store in Homer, Alaska. Blame the one unhappy member of the public who complained about the cat to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
"We did receive a complaint [about the cat]," Jeremy Ayers of the DEC's Food Safety and Sanitation Program, tells the Homer News. An environmental health officer also witnessed the cat, he says, and "if an EHO sees it, they need to take action."
Under the state's food code, live animals, with the exception of service animals, seafood, and pet fish, are largely not allowed in Alaska food establishments.
The general store is owned by Sean Maryott and Diana Carbonell, who took in the cat in 2012 after its original owner, Kady-Lee Hackett, moved to Australia.
Despite concerns that the cat might be a health risk, some frequent customers say that couldn't be further from the truth. "I'm in there every day, and it just seems like if the DEC is concerned about hygienics, having the cat there is a lot more hygienic than not having the cat there, because the cat keeps the rodent population down," Al Breitzman tells the Homer News. Linda Chamberlain notes that state regulations might not always make sense to unique circumstances in less crowded parts of the state.
Some have drawn comparisons to Stubbs, a cat that would often visit both a convenience store and restaurant in Talkeetna, Alaska, where he was elected mayor in 1998. But according to Ayers, allowing Stubbs into those establishments was a violation of state food code as well.
Storm will now live with Maryott's sister, Bridget. Still, as Hackett notes on Facebook, "she doesn't deserve to have to go through this stress or to have to be rehomed at her age." Hackett says she's written to the governor, in hopes that he'll intervene to let the cat stay at the store.