A minor ruckus occurred Thursday morning at Marion Assisted Living when one of its residents, lying on a windowsill, knocked over a potted plant.
The resident then went to a corner and, as one observer put it, “felt sorry for himself,” while the nursing staff cleaned up the mess. After this resident was fed, petted, and scratched under the chin just the right way, things presumably went back to normal.
Usually, director Bonnie Sawyer said, Vester the cat is well behaved.
During one winter about five years ago, the staff at Marion Assisted Living began feeding a stray kitten that had started hanging around the premises.
“When there got to be about five, six feet of snow on the ground, we started feeling sorry for him,” Sawyer said. “So we let him inside.”
He’s been there ever since.
As far as feline accommodations go, Vester — short for Sylvester — has it made.
His food bowl is pretty well always full, he has several chairs in the common areas of assisted living with cushions or blankets on them just to collect cat fur, and he’s got a couch right out by Eisenhower Dr. where he can sit and watch the traffic. Residents who want his attention simply open their doors, and he’ll come around eventually.
“He usually comes by two or three times a day,” Allen Abbott said. “I’ve got a bowl of water out for him, and he likes to lie in the window in the sun.”
Abbott said he had several cats that he distributed to different homes before moving in to assisted living. He has several cat trinkets and figurines in his apartment.
His history with cats could be why Vester’s made such regular appearances.
“I guess it smelled like a cat home,” Abbott said.
Abbott was one of many who showed their support last year when shirts were sold that featured Vester’s face with rays of light beaming from behind it pictured in a heart-shaped graphic below the words “Marion Assisted Living.”
Vester is an ideal companion for the living center, Sawyer said. He rarely causes havoc (Thursday morning’s incident notwithstanding), he’s never harmed residents, and he doesn’t even need a litter box.
“He’s kind of like a dog,” Sawyer said. “He goes and waits by the door when he needs to go out.”
On his walkabouts, Vester will do more than go potty. He pays visits to his “other” homes in the neighborhood. Sawyer said Larry and Jane King across the street and a couple other homes in the area will provide respite to the cat during the day.
“He’s got a lot of fans,” Sawyer said. “I would say he’s like a mascot for us.”
And he loves it.
“He’s pretty spoiled,” she said.
Vester declined comment for this article.