by Judi Posch

Artists are drawn to the outdoor  patio at the Townhouse Lounge. On a lazy afternoon, a passerby may see a young woman sketching mountain scenery, or an older gentleman composing his first screenplay. Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, musicians add an extra level of vibrancy to the creative environment.

So it makes sense that three of the Townhouse VIPs are cats. Denver may have the Vonnegut bar, but Manitou has an unofficial Hemingway house. How could any lover of cats resist penning his next novel next to Nubbins, Tripod, and Smokie, otherwise known as “The Townhouse kitties?”

Years ago, there was a problem in town with cat overpopulation and inbreeding. As a result, when the Townhouse kitties were born, Nubbins was missing her front paw, and Tripod was missing his back leg. To ensure that overpopulation would not remain an issue, a few locals spayed and neutered the cats and then released them. After they chose the Townhouse patio for their home, a regular who sometimes works for Townhouse built them their very own home! A couple of regulars also donated a dog house, which provides extra shelter during storms.

The Townhouse kitties are all from the same litter, but have unique personalities. Tripod is the alpha male, but not a chivalrous one, and will steal food out from under his sisters’ paws. Nubbins is sweet and skittish, but has been known to try to run inside the bar during slower months, because she enjoys human company more than the others. Smokie is elusive, but friendly when she feels like it.

Concerned visitors often ask why the cats are limping, and are relieved to find out that they aren’t hurt. The cats have also created quite the racket for themselves. Though they receive food and fresh water every day from the staff, the customers think they are starving, and give them bits of roast beef, chicken, and shrimp. While they accepted French fries as kittens, 2015’s Townhouse kitties have very particular palates, and stick to the meat.

Cats are not for everyone, but these three have amassed quite the fan club over the past seven years. In a town where the slogan is “Keep Manitou Weird,” Nubbins, Tripod, and Smokie are adding to the weirdness and the cuteness that is Manitou. Visitors often return a year or more later and express hope that “the cats from last time” will still be stalking around. ω