Be assured: This cat’s in charge

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2007

FRANKLIN—Local customers have found that patronizing the Franklin BP station is the cat’s meow.

And Mink, the almost 19-year-old feline mascot at &uot;Bubba’s Place&uot; on Mechanic Street, is all the more spoiled because of it.

Not only has the animal made it through two hurricanes and a nor’easter, she also survived a vehicular accident.

When the rains of

Hurricane Floyd flooded downtown Franklin in 1999, the scared kitty hid from the crew at the BP and they couldn’t find her.

When only authorized personnel were allowed to go downtown, former Franklin Police officer Kevin Hutt, rescued Mink by boat. The BP had about 18 inches of water in the building.

&uot;She had oil and water on the bottom of her belly and her legs,&uot; recalled station Owner/Operator William &uot;Bubba&uot; Carr Jr. &uot;I took her home, put her in the bathtub and gave her a bath.

&uot;She was miserable at the house,&uot; he said. &uot;She cried the whole time. After about 10 days when I brought her back, I put her down and she acted like, ‘I’m free again.’&uot;

McCoy Fowler, former owner and secretary/bookkeeper said that Mink witnessed the post-hurricane clean-up.

&uot;Then came Hurricane Isabel, which blew down a pole out front at the station,&uot; Fowler said. &uot;When we got here she was sitting on the counter, looking out the window at the pole.&uot;

Last year, she had an unfortunate accident when she walked out in front of the car wash bay. She was looking the other way when the car washer backed out of the bay and hit her, dislocating her shoulder and breaking off one of her canine teeth.

&uot;We took her to Southampton Veterinary Clinic and Dr. [Pam] Childress reset her shoulder, updated her shots, and ended up having to pull both of her fangs,&uot; said Fowler.

&uot;She returned to her home at the Franklin BP the same day. In a few days, she was up to greeting her customers again.&uot;

The same year, the October nor-easter hit, flooding the area again. Although the station did not have any water inside, people were still cut off from their businesses for a while.

Fowler said, &uot;Mink was at the station for about a week. Our animal control officer, Roy Richards, assisted in feeding her and seeing to her needs, which was much appreciated by her and us.&uot;

Mink came to the station in 1988 as a kitten about 6 weeks old. Fowler had wanted to raise two kittens in the barn on his farm. A woman overheard him talking about it and said she had two kittens at home that she couldn’t keep.

She returned with one, the other scurrying out of her reach.

&uot;She never brought the other one,&uot; said Fowler, &uot;so we decided to keep her here at the station.&uot;

Carr named the kitten, saying, &uot;When she was small, she couldn’t meow. She would go, ‘mink, mink.’ That’s how she got her name.&uot;

Fowler said in her younger days, the cat &uot;would meet customers in the parking lot and would walk with them back into the station.&uot;

He said while she doesn’t stray outside of the station much anymore, she continues to greet people with a meow when they come inside. She even recognizes the vehicles of people she knows, especially if they have presented her with treats.

&uot;She would be sitting across the street in the morning when I came to work,&uot; Carr said. &uot;She’d run across the street when I pulled in.&uot; If he arrived in different vehicle, she didn’t bother to meet him until she realized who it was.

According to Fowler, many customers check in on Mink, bringing her treats and supplies.

One lady who works in Franklin brought a basket and baby blankets to provide the cat with a place to rest.

&uot;She brings bags of treats and clean blankets each winter,&uot; Fowler said. &uot;When she comes in, she says, ‘Grandma’s here.’

&uot;Mink sleeps in the basket in the window in the winter.&uot;

In the summer, one can find her splayed in front of one of the fans, usually on the cool concrete.

&uot;We really think she stays awake all night and sleeps all day,&uot; said Carr. &uot;I’ve come back to the station at night for something and she’d be looking out the window.

&uot;We say she’s our watchdog.&uot;