Cali the Red Carpet Cat
Cali the calico cat has been a fixture at the Red Carpet Lounge in Charleston, WV for the past few years, and is well known by patrons, neighbors and a staff at a couple of nearby restaurants she visits for snacks. Her neighborhood renown turned into greater celebrity recently after she made the news and gained a Twitter presence following an unfortunate run in with the health inspector.
Cali has a heated little house on the Red Carpet’s patio but also had the run of the lounge when not out making her daily rounds. Though she’s usually out at lunch time, she happened to be on the premises when a health inspector arrived at noon one day two weeks ago. According to state health codes, animals are not allowed where food is served, and the Red Carpet serves food during the day. Cali’s presence warranted a critical violation, meaning one that had to be addressed immediately.
Red Carpet owner Mike Duda is now doing his best to follow the law while allowing Cali to stay at her home. For now, she can stay in her house on the patio, but is not allowed into the bar or restaurant areas. She can and does spend time in the office. “They said she had to be off the premises,” Mike Duda said in a feature in the Charleston Daily Mail. “I’m interpreting that to mean she can stay on the patio.”
“The cat shouldn’t be anywhere where it can come in contact with clean equipment, utensils,” according to health department supervisor Nasandra Wright, a cat lover herself, “So it shouldn’t be where you’re going to prepare food, even though it’s a beloved cat.”
Mr. Duda said he allowed the cat to make herself at home at the lounge at the behest of customers, who bring bags of cat food and take turns paying for her annual vet exams. Mr. Duda took Cali to the vet when he decided to let her make herself at home. He provided Cali’s house, which warms up in the cold weather when she steps inside.
As for Cali’s enforced confinement in the office during food service hours, she is said to be banished to the dungeon, at least for now.
There has been speculation on how Cali ended up settling on the Red Carpet as her chosen home. Some thought she had been abandoned when he family left the neighborhood. Neighborhood resident Anthony Paranzino put speculation to rest when he wrote in response the the newspaper article, “Cali is my old cat. She was not abandoned or left behind. I used to live behind the Red Carpet and Cali was an indoor/outdoor cat and used to visit The Carpet & Tricky Fish on a regular basis. Cali gave birth to a litter of kittens and after we decided to keep one of them, Cali decided there were greener pastures across the parking lot and took up residence at the Carpet, where we go see her on a regular basis.” Mr. Paranzino said he had Cali spayed after she delivered her litter of kittens.
In addition to the newspaper article, Cali was featured on TV, with the video piece seen below. She also has a Twitter account, Red Carpet Cat, @redcarpetcat. The Twitter account is keeping Cali’s effort to remain ensconced at the lounge in the public eye.