The CFO’s office cat
When Paul Altherr, Best Friends’ chief financial, business and people officer, hosted a meeting that included several attendees in dress pants, dress shirts and ties, his office cat, Carmelo, didn’t hesitate to come over to say hello. Some well-dressed people might break a sweat over a longhaired black cat head-butting them, rubbing against their spotless clothing and trying to climb into their laps. But these guys took it in stride.
That may be because Carmelo is both handsome and hard to resist. The charming cat “doesn't know a stranger,” Paul says. He’s the perfect office pet for the busy CFO because he loves to entertain visitors. Meeting times are Carmelo’s favorite times because they bring strangers that he can quickly turn into friends.
How Carmelo became an office cat
Before he started wooing executives and presiding over important meetings, Carmelo lived in Cat World. But he made it clear that he had no time or patience for living with other cats. Carmelo’s focus is entirely on people. He would much rather spend time hanging out with humans than making feline friends.
While Cat World does have a number of spacious single rooms in its headquarters building, Carmelo is so friendly and outgoing that his caregivers thought he might enjoy being someone’s office cat. And Paul, who happened to have space for him after his previous office cat was adopted, opened his door.
Best Friends’ business cats
By moving in with Paul, Carmelo became one of 10 Best Friends business cats. These are cats who live full time in Sanctuary offices until they are adopted. Their human office mates essentially foster them, giving them all the love, care and attention they need until they find homes of their own. When regular office staff is away on weekends or business trips, Cat World caregivers step in to care for their office cats.
All of these cats live in Sanctuary offices for different reasons. Some, like Carmelo, don’t get along well with other cats. Others, like Princess Blue, a purebred Korat cat who lives at the Best Friends Welcome Center, are happiest with more activity and excitement than even bustling Cat World can provide.
Single cat at work
Since being promoted to the CFO’s office, Carmelo is proving his business savvy. Every day while Paul is hard at work, Carmelo must decide the best time to demand attention. He’s perfected his signature move, which Paul calls “the flop.” More graceful than it sounds, it’s when Carmelo jumps up onto a table or a desk where Paul is working and rolls neatly onto his side for pets and belly rubs. Sometimes he’ll put his chin on Paul's wrist while he’s trying to use the computer mouse, but Carmelo also knows how to stay close to Paul without disrupting his work.
Although there are at least five chairs in the office at any given time, he always ends up in the one Paul is currently using. There, he curls up between the back of chair and small of Paul's back. It’s his very favorite place to sleep.
“If I get up, he’ll spread himself out, and when I come back I have to gently move him to reclaim a little bit of room on the chair,” Paul says with a hearty laugh. “Carmelo is a great companion. It’s neat to have a little buddy in here and fun to have an animal close to you while you work.”
While life in a Sanctuary office clearly agrees with Carmelo and Paul genuinely enjoys having him around, the kind-hearted CFO will do whatever he can to help his buddy find a home of his own. While Paul admits that Carmelo’s dislike of other cats means a bigger challenge when it comes to feline adoption and a longer wait for the right home, he has no doubt it will happen for him. “There is a whole lot to like about him,” Paul says. “He’s so loveable.”
Until Carmelo does go home, the charming, outgoing cat is more than welcome to stay right where he is — curled up against Paul’s back, head-butting visitors and stealing the spotlight as he introduces himself to the most sharply dressed Sanctuary visitors.
Photos by Molly Wald