SALT LAKE CITY — It’s more than a coincidence that the white-haired stray hanging around Salt Lake Acting Company happens to be a drama cat.
The apparent stray started roaming the Marmalade neighborhood regularly in the chill of last winter. By midsummer, staffers realized the cat consistently showed up every night at 6:30, just as theatergoers started arriving for “Saturday’s Voyeur” shows.
“We noticed she wouldn’t be around on Monday and Tuesday when we were dark,” says Cynthia Fleming, the company’s executive artistic director. “She knew when our audience would come. She’d sit like a gargoyle at the end of the walkway. She’s a better host than we are. It almost feels like she understands the audience.”
Fleming, who is allergic to cats, fell in love with this one. She started referring to her as Cat, after the feline character in the 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (played by Orangey, a trained, award-winning male marmalade tabby known in Hollywood for his mean temperament).
Or Fleming refers to the stray as SLAC Cat, using the theater company’s nickname. Cat even earned a spotlight in the theater’s Christmas card.
“Everybody just absolutely loves her,” Fleming says. “And she loves people. Cats usually don’t.”
Theater staff soon learned that the cat was also being fed regularly by their neighbor, Steven Finch of Marmalade Antiques, just east of the theater. He calls the cat, simply, Kitty.
Several months ago, when Cat showed up with wounds from an apparent fight, theater staffers worried about taking her to a veterinarian, afraid she might be returned to her former owner and never come back to the theater.
The cat had a chip, and they learned her real name: Suki. But several days after getting treatment, Cat came back.
When the weather turned cold, Fleming bought the stray a heated house, and then theater set designers added shingles to protect Cat from the rain. A board member’s daughter-in-law volunteered to groom SLAC Cat.
“She does have a dramatic streak to her,” says Fleming, speculating Cat was an actor in an earlier life. “She gets a little jealous when the Intermountain Therapy dogs come to the building.”
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com