I’ve been called Dusty as long as I can remember. Even as a kitten, I longed for the open road and the next horizon. My mama always said I was destined to be a dusty road kitty, and danged if she wasn’t right! I’ve seen a lot of this world, met some real interesting cats, people included. I’ve crossed the Mississippi no less than seven times and didn’t once get a whisker wet. A few months ago, through a series of increasingly absurd coincidences—a story for another day—I was “adopted” by a nice lady named Katy. She makes a great roommate: she’s neat and tidy, pets me only upon request, buys the good cat food, and always gives me a pinch of her tuna sandwiches. The last few months have been very pleasant, but lately… well, I’ve started to feel the old twitch in my tail. It might soon be time to travel to the next adventure.
This particular day, it was Katy who had decided it was time to hit the road. We were off to see the Fun Loving Adventure Troup Cats—also known as the F.L.A.T. Cats of Sedalia. This new exhibit pairs the pictures of the famous cats of Sedalia with their visit-worthy venues. Katy had heard tell that each venue features a poster of the famous feline and their story—visitors even get a cat card with copy of the story to take home themselves! Katy was interested in checking it out, and I’m always in favor of learning more about the extraordinary accomplishments of catkind. Since Sedalia is only a few minutes down the road in Katy’s truck (probably 9 or 10 days as the cat walks), we decided to check it out.
We stopped first at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, where we found the F.L.A.T Cat poster for Picatso, a lovely, talented artist cat. I’m not much of an artist myself, but Katy paints in her spare time, and it was a treat to have the company of a true artist for my visit. She pointed out some impressive exhibits, mostly by humans—I saw Andy Warhol, Ansel Adams, and others. The star of the show was the swooping violet glass chandelier that was just begging to be jumped onto, though even I could recognize true art and restrained myself. I hoped to see more cat artists represented, and Picatso’s story hinted that she might be an up-and-coming artist!
Next, Katy and I headed over to the Hotel Bothwell in downtown Sedalia. Katy explained that the hotel had been built way back in 1927, and that all sorts of people had stayed or eaten there, like Bette Davis, Clint Eastwood, and even President Truman! The lobby was sumptuous and elegant; my first thought was that I was too dusty for this! But since I’d been staying with Katy, I have to admit my coat was looking its very best—glossy as a mirror and soft, too! I was looking nearly as nice as Rags, a handsome tuxedo cat, who has a poster here. We learned how he got his name, which is a very interesting story—much more interesting than how I got mine! I won’t give it away, but it has to do with the King of Ragtime, who walked these very streets more than a century ago, and who is still honored every year at the world’s premier Ragtime music festival, held right here in Sedalia.
Just a few blocks away, Katy and I stopped at Liberty Park to find the poster for Meowigold, the next of the F.L.A.T. Cats. This kitten had spunk and a style fresh as a daisy! We would definitely be friends if we met in pawson. They say Meowigold roams Liberty Park, so we kept a sharp eye out for her as we explored. We wandered through the Park, over the historic arched bridge, through the peaceful rose garden, and to the Liberty Park Baseball Stadium, where we watched a few innings of the Sedalia Bombers game. Katy even bought us lunch from the concession stand, and it turned into a beautiful afternoon outing.
My Katy was excited to head to the Katy Depot next, partially due to their shared name. Once there, we found Katsey Jone’s poster, a dapper cat with a luxurious tail and perfectly even whiskers. Reading his story, we discovered that Katsey was a true gentleman kitty of a bygone era, passionate about trains in general and the Katy Depot in pawticular. Katy and I explored the Historic Depot, which had been beautifully restored in the late 1990s. There were several exhibits, though what seemed like the most fun was the youth activity area, formerly the station kitchen, where kids could learn to be a train engineer, sell tickets, or try on some of the many turn-of-the-century hats. I was especially enamored of the telegraph exhibit—the lively taps and quick-moving hammer were mesmerizing! Katy had to nudge me to get me to snap out of it before I pounced.
At the Trail’s End Plaza, of the Missouri State Fairgrounds Historic District, Katy and I learned about Boots, a larger-than-life cat I’d like to meet! I immediately sensed a kindred spirit—here was a cat who’d spent his life on the move, seeing the sights, having adventures, pushing the limits of catdom. I could tell that Boots was a tough old cat, with a perfectly broken-in hat and worn bandana around his neck. In his story, Boots described his life before he settled in Sedalia. Trail’s End in Sedalia meant so much to the cowboys, who yearned for it as a symbol of a break from the rough life on the trail. We learned that Boots was happy to settle down in Sedalia, where he could enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Fairgrounds, with everything from horse shows to swap meets to weddings held every week. And you should see what he can do with mice!
The last of the F.L.A.T. Cats we visited was Bob, at the Bothwell Lodge . Bob was a big cat with handsome orange and black markings, and, if his poster is to be believed, possibly the longest whiskers and shortest tail I’d ever seen on a cat. Bob had been at the Bothwell Lodge for as long as anyone could remember, including Bob! As we explored the sprawling, meticulously maintained turn-of-the-century lodge, I could see why he loved it—it’s practically a catsle! Most of the furniture is original, and we even got a glimpse into the caves below the basement. It’s a real cat’s dream, and lots of human visitors fall in love with the 12,000-square-foot lodge and the three miles of walking and hiking trails around it. “Bee” sure to check out the Beehive!
After we left the Lodge, as Katy and I motored down the road towards home, I thought back on our long, fascinating day in Sedalia. We’d toured through historic sites, eaten great food, spent time outside on a lovely day, learned about the accomplishments of some famous felines, and now were headed back home. As much as I loved my time on the road, I found myself looking forward to snuggling on the couch with Katy. Today I had adventured in a way I had never thought possible—and with a human to boot! Katy may have adopted me, but it just might be time for me to adopt her right back. They say cats have nine lives, and I think I’ll spend the rest of mine with her.