Just as New Yorkers are famous for their bodega-roaming furry friends, South Dakota has a whiskery niche all its own.
At least three plant nurseries in the Sioux Falls area – Landscape Garden Centers, Cliff Avenue Greenhouse & Garden Center, and Oakridge Nursery & Landscaping in Brandon – have cats that hide among flower pots and trail gardeners through the aisles of annuals and seedlings.
On a practical level, the cats function as long-tailed security guards, preventing mice, bunnies, and gophers from taking up residence in the warm-walled buildings. But the cats also make the days go by a little easier for employees and give regulars a reason to keep coming back that isn’t extra potting soil.
On a cold fall night, Jazmine clawed through the plastic of closed-off lean-to at Landscape Garden Centers. For a while, the snowy white cat lived secretly underneath a pop machine for warmth. But as the cold days went on, her food supplies dwindled and her ears became frost-bitten. "Then one day in the winter, she was just standing by the door looking in, like 'I really need some help,'" Jessica Meendering, a retail manager for the greenhouse said.
The staff took Jazmine in, and the next day someone brought cat food. She spent the remaining winter months regaining her strength at an employee's house across from the greenhouse, but she often visited the greenhouse as the spring rolled around. Then one day, she decided to stay. Now, plant shoppers can often find her sprawled out near the houseplants, following customers through the saplings or taking a few bites out of the catmint before a midday nap.
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