Wanaka’s beloved community cat farewelled

Pictured: Number One at home on a comfy pile of clothing at Wastebusters. Photo: Si Williams

Wastebusters staff and the wider Wanaka community have said a tearful goodbye to the recycling centre’s famous cat, Number One.

Wastebusters communications advisor Gina Dempster said that both staff and customers were mourning the loss of the much-loved community cat, who was put down on Monday October 16 after several months of ill health.

“We all shed some tears as we said goodbye. She was a real character and has many friends out there. She’s loved by the whole community, already customers are asking where she is as they are so used to seeing her in the shop,” Gina said.

Number One and her sister Number Two were adopted by Wastebusters 15 years ago, a couple of years after it opened in 2000, to help keep the rat population down.

Number Two paid the price for her more adventurous nature and died young on the road, leaving Number One as the lone recycling cat.

Gina said that Number One was always more of a people cat, quickly finding comfort in the many people visiting the reuse shop and recycling centre each day.

“She proved herself to be an avid rat-catcher and loved to leave decapitated mice as a present for staff on the office stairs,” Gina said.

“As she matured, Number One moved on to a more senior role in the shop, specialising in patting education for preschoolers and counselling for overseas visitors who were missing their cats at home. She was unfailingly polite, even when her fur was stroked the wrong way. She was also a keen fire watcher, pillow tester and counter lounger, and she fitted perfectly into a suitcase or box when the occasion arose.”

Although many Wastebusters visitors may remember Number One snoozing in a comfy corner or box, Gina said that this was not how the friendly feline spent all of her time.

“In her more acrobatic moments, she would scale the recycling centre walls and walk between the roof trusses, seven metres above the shop floor. As the queen of the shop, she loved being the centre of attention, and believed she had the same rights as the other shop staff,” Gina said.

“She’d sometimes sit up at the table at meetings, and at the last staff meeting she nabbed a croissant out of shop supervisor Mathilde Fonteneau’s hand, which caused a lot of mirth around the table. Point made, Number One walked out the door, as usual, with her tail held high.”

Number One has been buried at Wastebusters where she spent her life and she will be remembered with love by all of the Wastebusters staff and customers.

Her story and photos have been included in The New Zealand Cat, by Rachael Hale McKenna, which was released last week and will be on display in the Wastebusters shop.

Pictured: Number One at home on a comfy pile of clothing at Wastebusters. Photo: Si Williams

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