Before moving earlier this year, we Maples lived in the center of Hinesburg village, right next door to Town Hall. I remember visiting the town clerk's office for the first time, and being greeted by a slight grey kitty. This cat was Felice, the "town feline" and she had lived her life AT Town Hall. If she didn't meet you at the door, you might find her curled up in someone's inbox, or supervising elections.

Felice spent many an evening rolling in our grass, waiting for her chin to be lovingly scratched, or sitting on our back deck, teasing our two indoor cats through the window. She was so petite, compared with our dog-sized Maine Coon cats, but not frail by any means. This cat had survived Route 116 traffic, neighborhood scruffs and over two decades of local government! She was gentle with kids, and kept your lap warm during town meetings.

Felice was sweet and resourceful, independent and resilient, warm and generous. She was a true Vermonter. She passed away Tuesday evening, and she will be greatly missed.

From the Burlington Free Press:

Farewell, Felice

By Ashley Matthews
Free Press Staff Writer

January 18, 2007
HINESBURG -- The town of Hinesburg is mourning the loss of a dedicated employee.

Felice, Hinesburg's town feline, died peacefully at 11 p.m. Tuesday in the lap of her beloved caretaker, Town Administrator Jeanne Kundell Wilson. Felice was 23 years old.

Felice lived in the Town Hall and attended hundreds of Selectboard meetings and oversaw dozens of elections. She will be remembered for her dedicated interest in town politics, her welcoming nature and her diligent mousing.

"The story goes that back in 1985, the Town Hall -- an old building, built in 1901 with a stone foundation -- had a lot of nooks and crannies and places for mice to come in. And the town had a mouse problem," Wilson said. "Someone said, 'You guys need a cat.' I don't know who initiated bringing a cat over from the farm, but she's been here ever since."

Felice began her life as a barn cat at a Hinesburg farm, but was promoted to the position of town feline when she was about a year old. She arrived at the hall in December and was named Felice in honor of the Christmas song "Feliz Navidad."

Former Town Clerk Mary Zuber cared for Felice during her near 12-year tenure, which ended in 2001. Zuber now lives in Latrobe, Pa., but still fondly remembers her time with the cat.

"She really added something to the Hinesburg Town Hall," Zuber said. "That was the greatest thing about it. It was unique. How many town halls have a town cat? That's part of what makes Hinesburg so special because it is a real, true hometown community."

Joe Cioffi, who was the town auditor and volunteered at Town Hall for more than 15 years, remembered Felice's penchant for jumping on tables and desks and lying on important documents. Because of Felice, Cioffi kept cat treats in his briefcase.

"Sometimes I forgot to bring the treats and she'd come up to me and meow and I'd feel really bad because she'd say, 'Where are my treats?' So, I always tried to remember," said Cioffi, 65. "She sure was a town fixture -- that's for sure."

Wilson said Felice will be buried this spring in the garden above the stone wall outside Town Hall. She said town employees have discussed choosing a successor, but it might be hard to fill the void.

"She was very involved in town functions," Wilson said. "She was kind. And, I think she was wise. How could she not be wise?"
Photo caption: Felice with former Town Clerk Mary Zuber in 2001.
Free Press file photo, copyright 2006


Vinny said...

Awwwwwwwwww! What a nice article. She was apparently a well-loved kitty.

The Contessa said...

Wow - that cat was only one year younger than our family cat Chloe who died 2 years ago. that's old.

What a neat and cool story though. Sad that she's gone but what a wonderful piece of history in your town.

It kind of reminds me of Lilian Jackson Braun's books "the cat who...." Read them - they are fantastic.

I hope they get a nice fluffy MC to replace her when they are ready!

Perhaps you may suggest a rescue from the MC rescue society?