As if we needed another reason to make our third trip to the garden center this week.

By Tracey L. Kelley
June 09, 2021
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cat walking through greenhouse
Credit: Courtesy of Oakridge Nursery & Landscaping

When shopping for petunias and pansies, you'd don't expect to lift a pussycat off a bag of potting soil. But at many greenhouses, it's not surprising to find kitties roaming around-even without the lure of catnip!

Oakridge Nursery and Landscaping in Brandon, S.D., has had cats-in-residence for many years. During the growing season, the four-legged "employees" are weaving in and out of annuals, perennials, and gardening supplies. In the colder months, they snuggle up in cozy cat beds or on someone's jacket left on a stack of edging stones. 

Annette Scheffer, store manager, tells Daily Paws the original owners of the nursery had a little girl who loved kitties and brought them into the greenhouse. "She hauled her cats around in a little wagon," she says. "Then she went off to college, but we never stopped. We've always had cats. They're great for pest control, and it was also therapeutic-if you're having a bad day, you pet some cats and walk around with them, and customers don't seem to mind."

The current friendly felines at Oakridge are all related and named after plants. They include Annabelle hydrangea; Betty, a nickname for betula, the Latin name for birch; and Agnus, which sort of stands for angustifolia (although, gardners, we didn't think to ask if it's inspired by the lavender or echinacea variety). Annabelle, who's 8, is dubbed the "greenhouse supervisor."

It's not that canine fauna aren't welcome among the flora. In fact, Scheffer says the greenhouse used to have a lovable Labrador retriever adored by cats and shoppers alike, but after she was gone, she wasn't replaced. And the cats kind of took over. You know, as they do.

"They love to lay in the sun and under the benches. They follow people around. They're all so tame that even kids can play with them," Scheffer says. "We always said having the cats around was a good way to keep the moms shopping and the kids busy. It's a great combination-and they could shop longer!"

Business owners: pet ambassadors=more customers. That's all we're saying. Oakridge often hosts pet photography and animal rescue events too, which we totally love! 

Now, we don't know if cats in greenhouses are as South Dakotan as Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and chislic, but we thought it was interesting that the Sioux Falls Argus recently did a story featuring not only those at Oakridge, but also a few other green-toed felines in the area, such as Jazmine at Landscape Garden Centers.

As well as Gadget and Gizmo at Cliff Avenue Greenhouse and Garden Center.

Which made us curious: Are there a lot of other cats in garden centers throughout the U.S.? Yes! From the Garden Barn in Montana to Hoover Gardens in Ohio, cats seem to be ubiquitous in this environment. The staff at the UC Riverside Botanic Gardens in Riverside, Calif., even recently spotted a momma bobcat nestling with her kittens (to which all we can say is awwwww!) and people were clamoring for a glimpse of them! 

So the next time you make a plant run and spot a kitty or two at your greenhouse, snap a picture! Tag us with #DailyPawsPets when you share it on social media so we can see the cute furballs, too!