When Madison Zoo introduced the cat to the world, it wasn’t really what anyone expected.
“I didn’t know the cat would become the cat-in-a-box,” the zoo’s animal care director, Dr. David D. Stumpf, said at the time.
“It wasn’t a very well-known cat, so it was kind of a shock to the system.
We had a cat-like animal called the dog and it was so small that it was never really used, so we just kept it in a box.”
After just a few days at Madison Zoo the cat became a favorite of visitors.
The cat has become a fan favorite at the zoo.
“He’s very popular with visitors and a great pet,” Stumpff said.
“People are drawn to him and they’re really happy to have a little cat in their home.”
When the zoo introduced the first cat, it took a lot of coaxing to get the cat in a cage, so that he could be released and become a part of the family.
“There was a lot more work to get him into the enclosure than it was to get us to the cage,” Stumps said.
Madison Zoo’s current cat was a little girl named Molly.
She was brought to the zoo from the Madison Humane Society and trained to associate with the humans in the exhibit.
“Molly had to learn how to get to the human interaction with the cat, and she learned very quickly,” Stumped said.
Molly and Madison Zoo staff brought in a cat named Ruby to the animal care center and trained her to associate in a group with the cats.
Ruby is a member of a colony of kittens that lived in the human-only exhibit.
The human cats don’t have the ability to interact with the kittens, so Ruby and the other cats are free to play.
“We got Ruby and Molly and all the other animals into the cage together and then Ruby started interacting with the other kittens, and then the cats, and Ruby started moving with them,” Stumpy said.
After three months, the first kittens that had been trained to interact on their own got the opportunity to be with humans again.
“Once Ruby got used to human contact, she was very happy to be a part,” Stumping said.
In December, the cats started getting along with the visitors again, and Stumpfs hopes that the cats will eventually be able to take on humans again as well.
“The cats really love being on the human side and we love the cats and we just want them to be able be human again,” Stumper said.