Please let Pumpkin the Tesco cat visit his Norwich supermarket despite the ban

NEAR NORWICH, UK – OPINION/NEWS STORY: Pumpkin is not a grocery at the Drayton branch (near Norwich) of the Tesco supermarket. He is a ginger tabby-and-white, six-year-old domestic cat and he loves to visit the store. He’s been a regular visitor for well over a year but in November 2019 the staff at the store decided that it was not right that a domestic cat should be allowed to wander around their supermarket and they gently encouraged him to leave. This so-called ban on Pumpkin entering the store caused a backlash at the time when supporters from the USA to Canada and Norway took to social media to complain and ask for his reinstatement as a ‘store cat’.

Pumpkin on scanner
Pumpkin on scanner. Photo: Annabel Fields.
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Well, it is now February 2020 and the BBC have reported that Pumpkin is back, defying the ban. He was spotted lounging on one of the self-service checkouts as you can see in the photograph. It is very amusing, I have to say. He is audacious and confident. And warm as the machines give off some heat. Above all, Pumpkin’s character is very typical of domestic cats. They are persistent. Humans can learn a lot about persistence from their domestic cat companions. If they like something they tend to come back even when discouraged and in the end they win you over. In other words they get their way at the end of the day.

He was spotted as an “unexpected item in the bagging area” of this Tesco branch, sitting on the scanner on Sunday. Apparently almost 2,000 people follow the adventures of this confident charmer of a cat. He sometimes sticks to the ban by sitting and resting outside the front door of the store. The staff have said that they are going to continue to encourage him to leave.

I think their reaction is quite nice, actually. It’s not too harsh but I wonder whether they could change their minds and be open to the suggestion that he stay because my experience of reading about ‘store cats’ tells me that they actually increase profits. Not all customers would approve but the vast majority of customers to stores approve of the presence of a domestic cat in the store. That might sound a bit weird but my assessment comes from reading lots of stories about store cats.

In fact, we can cast our minds to the famous bodega cats of New York City. These are community cats or sometimes domestic cats who reside in convenience stores or delicatessens which are called bodegas. They are popular. They are famous, in fact. This not only does no harm to the store’s trade but in actively encourages it. They are an asset.

It is a misconception to believe that there are hygiene issues. Humans presesnt more of a hygiene issue in my view. I believe that this is the reason for the ban.

Please, therefore, let Pumpkin do what he loves to do which is hang around and chill out at this Tesco store. He likes the company. He needs the company. I would bet that some people are visting the store at this time because his story has resurfaced. They want to see whether he’s there, which gets then in, a first step to spending money.

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