How a cat creates community
By Vicki Pinkerton
Beemer the street cat, has, without so much as breaking a sweat, taken over the core of Mount Albert and created a community of supporters through his efforts over the past few years. His life started without event as a kitten. To look at him then, a gambolling ball of fluff, you wouldn’t have guessed that he would grow up to be the puss of influence that he is now.
Always a handsome fellow, he moved into town with his family some years ago (there is some disagreement in the legend that is his life but perhaps 8 or maybe even 9 years ago). His family were nice people who loved him but when they left town, they were not able to take him with them so they gave him to the family down the street – who knows why. The reason for it is shrouded in the mists of time, but Beemer, after settling with the new family, discovered a wander-lust that has never left him. He spent less and less time at home and more on the streets.
A happy-go-lucky pan handler, he showed up at doors where there might be handouts and he often found his way to the kitchen door of the Pub wearing his pathetic, I’m starving face. Always quick to purr and reward a handout with a cuddle, he became a favourite there and some patrons began to bring little treats just for him. Enter Pauline, who would play the Princess to Beemer’s Puss. Pauline, the owner of Epernay, a business downtown on Centre Street, fell for his good looks and hearty purr. She wanted more of it and often brought special goodies for him to nibble. Soon he was a regular downtown.
Life may have gone on like that forever but something happened.
Four years ago, Beemer disappeared off the streets. No one knew
where he was. Not his owners or those who loved to see him around. The kids boarding the school bus in the morning missed his winsome ways. So did everyone else. Pauline and her co-worker Glenda put up posters all over town. They called the vets and shelters for miles around. No one had seen him. Had he crossed the road one too many times without looking both ways? Anyone whose life had been touched by Beemer was devastated by his loss. The corner of Centre and Main seemed quiet and deserted without him.
Then there was a break in the case. A woman in Aurora found a cat on her doorstep, beaten and abused; he showed up hungry and bruised. She took him in and brought him to a vet who, miracle of miracles found a microchip under his skin. His original owner must have had it put there when he was a kitten, and the vet contacted her. She pointed him back to Mount Albert where he had a short stay with Veterinarian Dr. Bob on Hwy 48.
He called Pauline. Overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion, Pauline took him to her rural home where he spent the winter months in the warmth of her home recovering with her dogs. Once the spring came, his wandering ways made him miserable in the house. She didn’t want to let him out where coyotes and hawks might make dinner out of him, so she called Jan at The Corner Decor and More. They made an arrangement. Beemer sleeps there most nights and keeps her place safe, then during the day he goes out and is a town cat. He frequents Epernay, the Corner Decor and More and Christina’s Shades of Beauty. He has a usual route during the day but he doesn’t like to talk about the volunteer work he does around town so I can’t exactly tell you what he is up to on a usual day.
During the 2014 municipal election Beemer toyed with the idea of running for Mayor. He had a poster made up
and everything. Support for his campaign was astounding but he had second thoughts. As he talked to his loyal supporters, he realized that he was needed here, at the corner of Main and Centre.
On any given day you can find him helping customers choose paint and decorative touches for their homes at
The Corner Decor, or suggesting hair styles at Christina’s Shades of Beauty. If he is not at either of those places,
try Eperney where he can be found helping Glenda and Amanda with their work. He really enjoys keyboarding.
Beemer takes his position as street cat very seriously.
He is grateful for the circumstances and friends who have supported his journey.
He is passionate about cat welfare and supports the spay and neuter programs run by the local shelters to
protect unborn cats everywhere. That is also a topic close to my heart.
When I tell him about the cats who are dropped at the end of my rural lane to be hit on the road or carried off
by hawks, he pounds his paw into the pavement. “One female cat can have 3 litters a year for 15 years with an
average of 4 kittens per litter. If each of those kittens has or fathers 3 litters a year there are 1,000’s of cats. Many end up in the shelter system or on the street. If we could get people to spay or neuter their pets, then we would all be wanted.” He is also a strong supporter of York Region Change for Feral’s organization. “These people collect change to help street cats.” He is proud of his work in that area.
So, if you have not met Beemer yet, I suggest you come to the main corner and hang around. If you look like you
are packing cookies or are ready to give him a belly rub, he will find you. He is not shy and is likely to wind around your legs purring if you are walking. If you are driving in the area, watch for him because he considers the road to be his domain too. I saw him once taking advantage of the almost spring sun by rolling on the warm pavement in the center of the road just as a truck came around the corner.
The truck stopped and Beemer got up and strolled back to the sidewalk. “What?” He asked as he saw my stricken
face. “It’s my corner.”
As I learned his story I was amazed by the number of people touched by this four legged rule breaker. It reminds me that community is often built and maintained by a friendly attitude, a loving pat and a little purring.
Let’s all try to put that cattishness to work in our town.
For more information about Beemer, just talk to anyone who lives or works on the main corner of town.
For more information about Change for Ferals, go to: http://yorkregionchangeforferals.com/
Vicki Pinkerton lives on a small farm just outside of Mount Albert. When she is not driving the roads of Canada she
is a practicing life coach, a writer and adventurer who wonders about many things. www.questacrosscanada.com or lifelinescoaching.org.
UPDATE MAY 2015:
By Blair Matthews
Living in a small town is a unique anomaly. People talk, stories get told and re-told. Legends and lore grow and fester and soon, a story about a popular Mount Albert cat gets a little more layered.
Bulletin columnist Vicki Pinkerton and I agree - of all the stories that have appeared in the magazine over the years, the story of Beemer the cat is the most commented-on article we’ve ever had.
Residents from all over the place have known Beemer for a while, but hadn’t heard his back story until Vicki wrote about him last month. For a cat, he’s one popular feline.
And just when you thought the story of Beemer the cat is done and filed away, the plot thickens.
A few days after the April Bulletin was delivered, I got a call from Beemer’s original owner.
If you recall, nobody was quite sure how Beemer ended up in the arms of local Mount Albert shopkeepers.
We had been told Beemer was abandoned when his family moved and became a street cat who needed a home. Sounds plausible right?
Here’s the twist.
We now know Beemer is an 8-year-old cat who got his name because his owner had a fondness for old BMW motorcycles.
Beemer’s original family still resides in Mount Albert. They didn’t ditch Beemer, but, as the story unfolds, he was much more interested in the food a neighbour was feeding him rather than what his owners deemed appropriate. Reluctantly, they let the cat choose where he wanted to live and who he wanted to live with.
I can’t verify this story, so let’s agree to add it to Beemer’s mysterious past, be grateful that he’s found a happy home in Mount Albert, and leave it at that.
Thanks for reading, and take care.