There's a new shop cat at Ivy Insurance, and he's already delighting both the business' owner and the Jamaica Plain neighborhood at large, following beloved shop cat Ivy II's passing in August.
"He's a very, very sweet cat," said Ivy Insurance owner Tim Foley of the beautiful 16-year-old feline. "He's extremely friendly and a little shy."
Like his predecessor, the cat in the insurance company's window on South Street was quickly spotted by passersby, and there's little doubt he will become popular and celebrated like Ivy II.
The "new" cat was previously named Sugar. He's an Abyssinian, which is the name of ancient Ethiopia, so Foley decided to give him an Amharic name -- "Sikuwar," which means sugar.
Sikuwar was introduced to Foley by Laura Dembski, owner of Miss Laura's at Cla-Mar, the hair salon just down the block from Ivy Insurance. Dembski's father, John, was the cat's previous owner; he passed away about a month ago in his mid-80s.
"He was [my father's] best pal," said Dembski during an afternoon visit with Foley and Sikuwar. "He was fed lamb chops, and tea and jam in the morning." Dembski said she came over to her father's house once, saw he was cooking lobster and thought it was for her -- but no, it was for the cat.
Her father had the cat since he was a kitten and cherished him immensely, Dembski said. And her family often referred to him using the Polish word for sugar -- so there's a tradition of translating the cat's name into different languages.
After her father passed, the cat stayed at Dembski's house but was not meshing with her cats, so Dembski approached Foley about "fostering" Sikuwar for the foreseeable future.
"[Dembski] was thinking she could find another home for him -- and it's worked out pretty good so far," said Foley, noting that the cat has been following him around in the shop already.
"It's a nice story: I lost my cat and he lost his owner. It's a good fit, two good old guys in the insurance shop. Miss Laura put us together. Drop in to say hello and you can meet him," Foley said.