Today I stood in the foyer of Sainsbury’s Ely with my little girl and looked at all of the carefully laid flowers, tributes, photos and memoirs of a beautiful soul who sadly left us last week. Just two weeks prior I had stood in this exact same spot talking to him, tickling him behind the ears and petting his handsome furry head…thats right fur…because this blog post is a dedication to the wonderful Sainsbury’s Cat aka Garfield/Mr Sainsbury’s.
Garfield was the best friend and companion of David who I had the pleasure of interviewing and chatting to about Garfield for an upcoming blog post I was writing about the loveable cat following the release of his very own book of adventures “What’s that doing there?” David and I chatted on the phone and the love and pride he felt for his cat was evident. Raising Garfield since he was a kitten, he see the mischievous naughtiness of his younger kittenhood stay with him throughout his life. At the grand age of 13 Garfield had earned himself the nickname Mr Sainsbury’s or the Sainsbury’s Cat. But how did the Sainsbury’s Cat become the Sainsbury’s Cat that the public fell in love with?
Living a short distance from the Sainsbury’s site, before Sainsbury’s was even a distant planning permission, Garfield would spend his days hunting on the fields that eventually became the supermarket. He would roam his days on the fields before returning home to his loving owner. Walking the short distance to the fields he would even be spotted stopping at zebra crossings and waiting for the green man at the pelican crossing. However at the age of 6 work commenced on Garfield’s patch and builders began work on Sainsbury’s Ely. Determined not to be moved Garfield carried on visiting the grounds which was now a building site, where he became a permanent feature and much loved character on site. The builders loved Garfield and as an honoury foreman he would prowl and survey proceedings, enjoying strokes and attention during tea breaks.
The brand new Sainsbury’s store stood on the site now but Garfield was determined not to be deterred from visiting his manor. At first he caused quite a stir in the supermarket and David was called many times to come and take Garfield from the aisles and tills he prowled. On one occasion he snuck into the staff room and cheekily helped himself to one of the employees sandwiches! Nonetheless employees and shoppers alike instantly loved this charming feline and shopping in Ely wasn’t the same if you hadn’t had some Garfield time at the bottom of the escalator. David his owner remarked how often Garfield came home with a lingering smell of women’s perfume!
In prime position for arrivals and departures in the store he would sit at the entrance of the store and greet passers by. Ever affectionate and happy he would purr and enjoy each and every second of attention from the shoppers. It’s safe to say that Garfield quickly became Ely’s own little treasure.
After his own Facebook fan page was formed news of Garfield quickly spread and before long he had fans worldwide. People who had never met Garfield fell in love with him and his adventures which were posted on his page. Fans would post selfies and photos of the handsome ginger cat and generate hundreds of likes across social media. With his fair share of mischief throughout his life it was only inevitable that author and fan, Cate Caruth, decided it only right that Garfield was to be a star and have his own book written about him. The book, written with owner David, “What’s That Doing There?” entails all of Garfield’s escapades. Written as a collection of short stories including his plans to originally sabotage the Sainsbury’s build, “What’s That Doing There?” is a wonderful reminder and memoir of the amazing life and tales of Garfield.
After news spread of the books imminent release, David told me how the book sold out quickly with pre orders alone. Going on, Garfield attended his own book signings, appearing at Ely Library with the mayor and other destinations, fans flocked to buy their copy and meet Garfield.
Now as I stand at the bottom of the escalator I remember a cat who brought so much happiness to so many peoples lives from just simply being there. I have read the Facebook posts this week and comments and have become overwhelmed with the amount of love Garfield had from across the world. A star in his own right Garfield touched so many hearts. After his tragic death last week his owners have decided that a Just Giving page for Garfield has been created and that all who wish to remember Garfield are able to leave a small donation if they wish and their memories of Garfield on the memorial page.All proceeds will go to the Cats Protection League which gives help and homes to cats in need.
Presently, a town and worldwide fan base are grieving the loss of an iconic character. I have no doubt that Garfield’s memory and stories will be told to generations to come. Garfield’s legacy will be one that is not forgotten and although he may not there be in body, I know many will still step off that escalator in Sainsbury’s Ely, perhaps first with sadness, but eventually a smile at the fond memory of an incredible cat that graced the beautiful city of Ely.
Rest In Peace Garfy ❤️
To purchase Garfield’s book “What’s That Doing There?” you can do so using the following links.