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NORTHERN KITTY NEWS: At 24, Josie the thrift store cat still on duty

Possibly Sudbury’s oldest cat, Josie provides ‘pet and retail therapy’ to customers at Pet Save thrift store, and still even catches mice

At an estimated age of 24 years old, Josie, who’s the resident store cat at the Pet Save Re'Tail' Thrift Store on Notre Dame Avenue, could possibly be Greater Sudbury’s oldest cat.

If you converted her age into human years, she’d be about 112. 

When visited, Pet Save Re'Tail' Thrift Store co-ordinator Kari Fabiilli explained that Josie was surrendered to the Pet Save animal rescue organization around 11 years ago, and the vet said she was around 13 years old at the time.

Because she was already a senior cat, it was decided that she’d stay at the thrift store while she awaited adoption, as the shelter environment wouldn’t be good for her.

Josie the 24-year-old cat at the Pet Save Re'Tail' Thrift Store on Notre Dame Avenue with store co-ordinator Kari Fabiilli. Heidi Ulrichsen /

But adoption wasn’t meant to be for Josie. When she first came into the organization’s care, she hid in the back of the thrift store quite a bit, and most people don’t want to adopt a senior cat anyway, so “we decided to keep her as a store cat,” Fabiilli said.

Josie has come out of her shell over the years, and enjoys her position as store cat.

She’s most active in the morning, and wanders around the store, visiting with customers, who sometimes even bring her treats. The rest of the day, you’ll likely find her resting on her favourite spot on the cat tree next to the cash, or moving from sun puddle to sun puddle.
Customers come for “retail and pet therapy, I call it,” Fabiilli said. “Lots of them can’t have pets of their own, for whatever reason. Sometimes they say their spouse is allergic. So when they come here, they get a little cat therapy.”  

She said this is true for herself as well, as she lost her own two cats recently, and Josie has been a real comfort.

“You can pet her,” Fabiilli said. “We do have a sign on her cat tree — just not on her back end, because she has developed arthritis. So she is a little bit sore in the back. But her neck and her head are her favorite, and she is going for monthly arthritis injections, which do help a lot. And she's doing pretty good.”

Despite her extremely advanced years, Josie even acts as mouse control for the thrift store building. Staff have posted her “mouse count” behind the cash.

“Fortunately, I'm usually the first person in the store, so I have to do clean-up,” Fabiilli said.

In general, Josie is a living symbol of what Pet Save Re'Tail' Thrift Store does, as the store raises money for the Pet Save animal rescue organization. 

“When you shop here, you're helping animals like her,” she said. “And It's a nice added bonus. I love when people come in and you know they've seen 100 cats, but when they see Josie in the store, it's like the first time they've ever seen a cat, and I love it.”

Fabiilli said Josie could possibly be Sudbury’s oldest cat. “Other people have said they have a 20-year-old cat or a 22-year-old cat,” she said. “So close, but nothing has come to 24.”

(If you happen to live in Greater Sudbury, and have a cat just as old or older than Josie, drop us a line at [email protected] - we’d love to hear about your pet).

If Josie’s age could be verified, she actually isn’t that far apart in age from the world’s oldest living cat. Flossie, who lives in the UK, is the oldest verified living cat at the age of 28. 

The oldest verified cat ever was Creme Puff of Austin, Texas, who died in 2005 at the age of 38.

The Pet Save Re'Tail' Thrift Store is located at 685 Notre Dame Ave. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s assistant editor. Animals & Pets is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.