His fur is orange, he wears a blue collar with a bell attached and he will steal pens if you set them down near him.

His name is Pumpkin, and he’s the cat watching you through the window when you walk past the Athens County Board of Elections on Court Street.

Adopted by the board’s director and deputy director in the fall of 2012, Pumpkin has lived in the elections board office for about a year and a half. His favorite, or at least most visible, spot: a windowsill that overlooks Court.

He has become popular — making friends with many college students, locals and even county government officials, including Athens County Commissioner Charlie Adkins.

“I used to have a picture of me and him on my phone,” Adkins said. “I went in to file my campaign finance papers, and he was sitting there on the counter. He put his paw over my hand like he was making sure I had dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.”

Because Pumpkin was adopted when election season was getting started, he’s been around as long as Adkins and Commissioner Chris Chmiel, who said he hasn’t had much personal contact with Pumpkin but said he seems to be a fun addition to the office.

"It was like love at first sight,” said Penny Brooks, the deputy director who adopted the cat with Director Debbie Quivey. “One day, Debbie and I were going down to get the mail because it was during election time, and a young lady and young gentleman were having issues. The young lady wanted to keep him, but the gentleman didn’t.”

So Brooks and Quivey took him in. They bought a litter box and paid $300 in veterinary bills to get rid of his fleas and worms. When the office is closed at night and during the weekends, Pumpkin has six or seven back rooms to himself, where he is free to wander around at will.

“We call it his apartment,” Brooks said. “If we’re gone for more than two days, we take turns coming in and letting him out and feeding him.”

But he’s allowed to sit on the counter and interact with anyone who comes in during the day, and many stop in to pet him or bring him treats.

“At least once a week people bring him toys and treats,” Brooks said. “He loves people. He’s not usually shy. Everybody’s been real receptive of him.”

Although a sign on the door prohibits pets, Pumpkin was cleared to live in the office.

“Our board members approve of him,” Brooks said. “Nobody’s ever questioned us about him.”

Brooks said she and the other staff enjoy having Pumpkin around, even when he’s mischievous sometimes.

“It’s a really good stress reliever at election time when we’re busy. He’s our service cat.”

 

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