VPM Daily Newscast June 13, 2022
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2022 is a special time for the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond as it celebrates its centennial anniversary. This also marks 10 years after the discovery of its infamous black cat sibling duo, Edgar and Pluto.
VPM News intern Meghan McIntyre reports.
A typical day for the brothers usually involves greeting museum visitors, sunbathing in the enchanted garden and attempting to steal food.
Longtime museum curator Chris Semtner says the pair see it as their home ever since they were found as kittens in the enchanted garden back in 2012.
“We were working out in the garden and our gardener was putting some compost in the compost pile. And he found these three little kittens underneath an old crate by the alley. So we took them inside and they’ve been living here ever since.” (20 seconds)
Their sister Catterina, who’s named after Poe’s cat, went to live with one of the tour guides, Semtner says.
(Edgar meowing UP AND UNDER WITH AMBIENT NOISE)
It’s hard to tell the cats apart at first glance. But museum spokesperson, Lucy Northup, says their personalities couldn’t be more different.
Edgar is a bit more moody than his brother and enjoys his solitude, but always appreciates when wants it.
“I think we chose the right one to be named Edgar because he seems a bit more like Poe himself.”
Pluto, on the other hand, is a bit more of a social butterfly and loves running up to big groups of people for attention. He was named after the cat in Poe’s story “The Black Cat”. Northup says he has no concept of personal space.
“If I’m working at my desk, Pluto will just come in, sit and just stare right into my face and be like ‘what are you doing? Can we hang out? What’s going on?’”
Despite their differences, Northup says the siblings work hard to fulfill their duties as museum employees.
“So they are definitely head of garden security. They will really take care of any animals that aren't supposed to be here.” (12 seconds)
They are also little tour guides.
“So if you go into the museum, they know the pattern in which people like to walk through the exhibits. So they will go if you are nice to them, and you are, you know, friendly. And they like you. They'll kind of lead you to the next house. So if they see you in the garden, they're like, Okay, it's time to go to this house. And so they'll just walk you right to the door.” (20 seconds)
Northup says the brothers really bring Poe’s work to life, especially since he loved cats himself.
“His own cat, Catterina, apparently would sit on his shoulder as he wrote his tales of terror. It is very serendipitous that we have two black cats in a place where, you know, Poe wrote ‘The Black Cat.’”
Michaela Starkey visited the museum with her grandparents and was excited to see the siblings in action.
“When I heard they had cats it just made the museum like that much cooler I think to have like, the Black Cat, you know.” (10 seconds)
The duo receives support for basic care like food and vet bills from museum donors, Northup says. Some give money specifically for the cats.
“And then just the price of admission also helps. So if you come into the museum, you buy yourself a ticket, you are also supporting the cats.”
Northup says museum visitors should not bring treats for the cats and are highly encouraged to hide their food, as the pair have started to get a little chunky.
Meghan McIntyre, VPM news.