Town hall cat brightens public employees’ days

Oscar roams McCordsville Town Hall during early voting in October 2018. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter file photo

McCORDSVILLE — When it came time for McCordsville Town Council members to assign a letter to one of the ordinances they voted on at their December meeting, the third character in the alphabet was next in line.

“‘C’ as in “cat,” Councilman Branden Williams said, getting chuckles from his colleagues.

It was a fitting coincidence, for a feline was at the center of the proposed legislation they prepared to vote on.

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The black cat known as Oscar has been roaming McCordsville Town Hall for about a decade. Officials say his friendly demeanor eases stress in what can be a demanding environment. Now he has a fund open for donations to help take care of him.

Tonya Galbraith, McCordsville town manager, said Oscar has been a fixture at town hall since it was on Broadway. He frequently turned up at a back door of the police department. That location sparked the acronym that became his name — OutSide Cat At Rear. He started hanging out mostly at the police department, Galbraith said, before making the entire town hall his stomping ground.

When the town moved its offices in 2011 to its current location at 6280 W. County Road 800N, Oscar came too.

The indoor/outdoor cat, whom Galbraith estimates is about 11, spends many of his days with town staff in their offices.

“He’s a happy boy and well-loved and well-taken care of,” Galbraith said.

And not just by staff, she continued, adding sometimes people will stop by town hall with their children just to see the feline.

The town doesn’t spend public funds on Oscar. Staff takes care of his food, litter, toys and veterinary bills on their own.

“Almost every office has a bag of treats,” Galbraith said. “There’s a reason he’s pretty healthy looking.”

Oscar is a bit of a therapy cat too, she said. Town government can be stressful with its array of projects, deadlines and times when members of the public are unhappy.

“Then Oscar comes and jumps in the middle of the conference table and we all start petting him,” Galbraith said. “It’s comforting, a nice feeling. People who are inclined to love cats feel the same way.”

The ordinance the town council unanimously passed refers to Oscar as the town mascot and establishes a fund for contributions and donations for his care. It’s named after Cathy Gardner, McCordsville’s outgoing clerk-treasurer and whom the ordinance identifies as Oscar’s “primary caretaker.”

Gardner agreed with Galbraith about Oscar’s approachable nature and therapeutic value.

“There’s just something disarming about it that a lot of people respond to,” she said. “…There’s something about him being in this kind of environment that just kind of softens the edges.”