On May 1, Brittany Morelli, the owner of Downtown DeLand’s BerryVille Bowlicious, received a call from one of her employees.
“One of my girls called me and said, ‘Hey, I think there’s a cat in the wall,’” Morelli said.
Of course there wasn’t a cat in her wall, Morelli thought.
She wrote it off, assuming the meowing was coming from elsewhere.
That was, until she came into the shop May 6 and heard the meowing herself. Then, looking into a small gap above the shop’s front door, she caught a glimpse of something kittylike.
“I was putting my tables and my chairs out, and I was hearing this meowing,” Morelli recalled. “I could see its little nose and its paw. I was thinking ‘I have to get the cat out of here so it doesn’t die.’”
Morelli called the DeLand Fire Department posthaste. The team of firefighters was unable to coax the cat from the nooks and crannies of the building.
Kim Keith, office administrator at the Fire Department, spoke with Joseph Church, the lieutenant involved in the cat hunt, and reported the team’s findings to The Beacon.
“It wasn’t stuck, necessarily,” she said. “He called it a Tom & Jerry situation. It’s in the wall and just doing its own thing. It comes out when it thinks nobody can see it.”
Firefighters believe the cat is feral and is living in an unused room above BerryVille and GLOW + CO Beauty Bar, at 131 and 133 N. Woodland Blvd., respectively.
Keith said the firefighters did catch a glimpse of the cat darting about on the second floor, and had determined it seemed healthy and wasn’t injured.
After an hour-and-a-half of trying to get to the cat, the firefighters got another call and had to leave.
The mystery cat’s origins
None of this was a surprise to GLOW + CO owner Brandi McBride, who has known about the cat — which the salon staff members have nicknamed Jinx — since she opened her salon at the start of 2021.
When McBride was first remodeling the store, she found cat prints on the floorboards, but it wasn’t until her neighbor — Orchid Rain manager Mark Palmer — spotted the furry feline in GLOW + CO’s front window one night that she knew the prints were fresh.
“I thought it was funny, they left their cat in the shop!” Palmer told The Beacon. When he mentioned it to McBride, though, she was confused — she didn’t have a shop cat.
Sure enough, the white-and-gray cat — who, per Palmer, is “cute” and “well-groomed” — was coming up from a hole in the salon floor during the night. McBride said there was evidence that the cat had explored the trash bins.
While McBride keeps the hole in the floor closed up during the day, she was opening it at night to allow the cat out to do its bidding.
That is, until Jinx urinated on the salon floor and she found out the cat was being fed by at least one other Downtown merchant.
Jinx is named for its habit of “jinxing” GLOW + CO staff when they were remodeling, such as when the foot of a ladder slipped into its hidey-hole.
McBride confirmed Jinx is somehow able to make his way from the floorboards of the salon, up the wall shared by BerryVille Bowlicious and GLOW + CO, and into the storage room above the two stores — where it presumably relaxes.
Both McBride and the DeLand Fire Department want everyone to know that the cat is healthy and evading rescue on his own account. Thanks to reports from other merchants, McBride said, it has been determined the cat is able to get outside.
Jinx just likes it there.