Joey the Garden Cat: A TV Sensation

Joey in a rare complative mood
Joey in a rare complative mood | Source

During an evening newscast at a local television station, a slender gray striped cat hops upon the news desk. Anchor Liz Massey smiles and says, “Oh, here’s Joey.” The cat sits on the desk and gives the camera a green-eyed stare as Liz and fellow-anchor Craig O’Neil carry on with the news. The privileged feline is Joey the Garden Cat who is a staff member of KTHV, the CBS affiliate in Little Rock, Arkansas. Joey has become a big TV celebrity in Arkansas and his fame is spreading nationally.

His stardom has gained him the run of the station, a kitty mansion, and all the cat treats he can eat. He has been featured on national TV. Joey’s FaceBook page has more friends than any television personality in Arkansas, numbering well over 100,000. His main job is the morning weathercast with meteorologist Tom Brannon, but he sometimes serves as co-anchor on the afternoon news block right alongside co-anchors Liz and Craig – whenever he has a mind to. How did this adorable gray striped cat become a big TV star? His gangbuster personality, of course.

Joey isn’t the first garden cat at KTHV. In fact, he began his career as an intern to Larry, a large marmalade feline. Larry had joined the staff a couple of years earlier when the station built an outdoor landscaped setting for their weathercasts and dubbed it “The Weather Garden.” The garden was a unique innovation that became a living backdrop for interviews previously done by talking heads at tables, and its popularity grew. Then one day in 2005, when Larry was a little homeless kitten trying to survive near the station, he was found and adopted by cat loving employees. The station had a cat house complete with a heater built in the garden for him. Larry became a fixture in the garden and the fan mail started pouring in.

Then one day Joey sauntered into the garden, setting human nerves on edge, but Larry greeted him like an old friend and invited him to stay – without asking permission. That’s what cats do. Homeless Joey, who was maybe seven or eight months old at the time, accepted the invitation. Theba Lolley, Joey’s guardian at KTHV wrote on the station’s website: “It didn’t take Joey long to realize that the garden was a safe place with a consistent food source, a heated house, and most importantly, where Larry lived and stayed. Joey adored Larry.” A KTHV employee had intended to adopt Joey, but because of the deep friendship between the two cats, the staff agreed that Joey should remain. Since he was now a permanent staffer, he received a title, too, "Joey the Intern."

The cats got the best of care. Dr. Bob Hale of Briarwood Animal Clinic was already Larry’s veterinarian, and volunteered to take care of Joey, too. The good doctor also does a question and answer session about pets on the Medical Monday's segment of the morning show, “Ask Dr. Bob,” so everything fell into place.

I saw them as a Martin and Lewis comedy team with Larry as the no-nonsense straight man and Joey the comedian. KTHV fans ate up the duo. Their relationship was funny, sweet, and profitable, but sadly, it ended all too soon. Larry was a roamer who refused to stay confined and frequently went prowling with his other buddies who lived in the alley. He left the safety of the garden one day in 2007 and failed to return. A search of the neighborhood found Larry’s body in an abandoned building nearly a week later. There were no marks on his body, and today his death remains a mystery.

After this tragedy, Joey was promoted from Joey the Intern to Joey the Garden Cat. He learned the ropes quickly, demanding a higher salary of cat treats, and during a remodel of the garden, a luxury kitty condo. But he works hard for his rewards. Morning weather would never be the same without Joey’s assisting Tom Brannon with the presentation, and sometimes clawing a leg for another treat. In addition to conning cat treats from Tom, he makes impromptu appearances with all the morning regulars, including the police guests who give traffic reports and the chef from a local barbecue restaurant who prepares dishes on the show. The regular guests are trained to know what Joey likes, and sometimes he sits in waiting for a delicacy from the chef -- before the sauce is added, of course, so as not to upset his digestion.

Joey has made an occasional personal appearance for his favorite charities, Little Rock Animal Village and the Pulaski County Humane Society. Although he tries to be discreet, it is rumored that he is friends with some of the dogs.

He stills joins evening anchors, Liz, Craig, and Dawn Scott, on the news desk. It has been speculated that his appearances have upped the station’s ratings, much to the chagrin of a rival station whose fans have been known to post sour grapes on their websites. Joey takes criticism in stride, though. “Just be my friend on FaceBook and keep those cat treats coming,” he purrs.

In early 2011, Joey’s popularity rose to that of a national sensation. The cable channel Animal Planet featured him on a segment on their show “Must love cats” hosted by John Fulton. Fulton was quite taken and admitted that he was “just a little starstruck” when he met Joey, and he wrote and sang a song especially for him. As with any major celebrity, Joey now has his own product line featuring Tee shirts, coffee mugs, and mouse pads.

Interview with John Fulton of Must Love Cats

As I sat and watched Joey, I realized how much I loved the little fella, although I had never met him personally. (I have received an invitation to drop by the station and meet Joey, and I hope to do that soon. Gosh, I hope he signs me an autograph!) Then I thought of Larry and I hoped that nothing bad would ever happen to Joey. But something did. I write about Joey's illness and the concern shown by his fans in a separate hub.

Note: I never wrote the hub about Joey's illness because I was accused of copying this one. This hub was taken down, and it took me three days to prove that it was my original work. By that time the feed was out of date, and this hub never gained the momentum that it should have. I saw no reason to put this much work into another one that might suffer the same fate.

Joey lounging on deck
Joey lounging on deck
Theba Lolley displaying Joey's portrait
Theba Lolley displaying Joey's portrait
Larry the Garden Cat, Joey's mentor.
Larry the Garden Cat, Joey's mentor.
Memorial to the late Larry the Garden cat.
Memorial to the late Larry the Garden cat.

More by this Author


Comments 29 comments

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Miz....this is an adorable story. Although it happened per chance, it has turned out to be quite a benefit and nice boost for the TV station......I love cats, of course, so I think this is extra special.......Poor Larry, R I P..

I hope he passed painlessly and was not attacked or injured by a larger animal.... The Memorial in the garden for him is precious.

Joey is a beautiful cat and obviously spoiled and much loved. UP+++


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

Thanks, I just heard from Theba who liked the story and wants to post it on the KTHV website. Yes, we were broken hearted over Larry. Larry's former keeper now works in Denver and they had to call her and break the bad news to her. She was very saddened, I understand. I heard somewhere that he may have been hit by a car, but that is still unknown.

Yes, Joey is precious, and I am working on the second segment of his story. We are so proud of him! Thanks for your kind comments.


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

This is a great story - So well written! I hope nothing bad happened to Joey - he's adorable. Voted up, interesting and awesome!


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

Thank you for the read and vote. I will have the rest of Joey's story as soon as I corral the photos and vids. Stay tuned!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Oh my! What a great story my friend! You had me laughing with this one, but it was also so sweet I found this silly grin on my face all the way through. Great hub!


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

Thanks, billybuc. I hope to complete the rest of his story soon. Joey is adorable and funny, but he has had some troubles. I've postponed it until I knew for sure what was going to happen to him.


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

This was a Fun read, Mizbejabbers. It's Amazing what a Pet can do for People...Even if you're not a Cat Lover, you gotta Love this Hub...Lots of warmth and Humor...good for this TV Station to show Joey...At the end of the day, Everyone needs a Smile.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

Thank you. Joey is an amazing cat, and we all love him so much.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 4 years ago

I adored this story, as I am and always have been a cat lover. I currently have two. Crissy is about 8 years old, and Spot, our newest addition is a few months past a year old. Crissy is a big, soft, fat kitty, and although very affectionate and wanting her loving, she refuses to be held. Spot, on the other hand, is a wild and crazy boy. His antics keep us entertained.

I was saddened to hear about Larry, and I pray Joey will be ok. He is a beautiful cat. Loved the video and photos!


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

Thanks, fellow cat lover. We just lost our 19-year-old Katrina, a lovely little thing we rescued off one of the busiest streets in town. People can be so wonderful! All four lanes of traffic stopped to allow us to rescue this mouse-sized kitty. She barely had her eyes open and was fed from an eye dropper at first. Losing her hurt a bunch, but we still have one left. He's the black one in the photo in my underground house hub.

Joey seems to be fine, but he is moving a bit slower nowadays and not making nearly as many appearances. I really intend to complete the second hub on his illness, but we have been very busy at work. Thanks for the read and the comment.


Joseph041167 profile image

Joseph041167 4 years ago from Nashville TN 37206.

I just sent you a personal email if you get it. And i remember Joey. The best friend I ever had in life was a cat there in Beebe, I named her Wild Thing, she was my daughter for a while. I remember watching Joey on t.v.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

Oh, a fellow Joey-lover! Do you remember Larry, too? I'm glad you had Wild Thing because cats truly are wonderful creatures. I haven't received your email yet, but I will be on the lookout for it. Thanks.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 4 years ago

I too had a 19 year old cat that I had to put down Oct 1 of last year. Her behavior was becoming very strange. She started not using the litter box much, and I'd find her in places she never went. When I took her to the vet, he told me her mental faculties were going, and that it was time. Out of all the cats I've owned, she was a favorite. I called her my velcro kitty, as she followed me all the time, slept with me, and loved laying in my lap. The decision to let her go was heartbreaking, but I certainly didn't want to see her decline any further. So, at the vet's office, I petted her and talked to her, and cried my eyes out as she went peacefully to kitty heaven.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

That is so heartbreaking. I'm sorry for your loss. I don't know which is harder, to see your pet dead from an accident or watch them slowly die of old age. (I don't let mine outside anymore.) I know about the crying. Mr. B., a Cherokee, plays the Native American flute. All our pets have loved to listen to him play. He played for her as she crossed over. He also played as our dog crossed over last year. I'm sure these pets know how much we love them and how we hate to see them go. Thanks for sharing your story.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

I'm from Arkansas and never have heard this. I love this story, and you told it so well! So adorable!


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

Victoria, you simply must watch the early morning show on TodaysTHV. Joey was on this morning, and he sat quietly between Ashley Blackstone and Heather Bennett through the whole interview. Heather petted him, and Joey soaked it up. Heather is a regular guest, so I'm sure that she and Joey are good friends. I'm glad you enjoyed Joey's story. Now that I got this hub straightened out with HP, I guess I should publish the second one about Joey's illness. Thanks for reading and for your comment. It's always good to see you.


Joseph041167 profile image

Joseph041167 4 years ago from Nashville TN 37206.

What happened with HP? That video up there with the Highway Patrol, I saw that, remember when it first aired, was living in Beebe at the time. NO, I do not remember the cat before the one they have now, or then. Cats are awesome. They are charmers.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

Joseph, did the video not come through? If it did, there are a couple of things to wade through, and then comes the interview with John Fulton of "Must Love Cats". Most videos now have a commercial beginning, which has nothing to do with the subject matter. Just turn it on and wait about 15 seconds for the interview. I think you will like it. It is good to have you stop by again.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

Joseph, I just now realized you asked what happened with HP. They took my Joey hub down a couple of days after I published because KTHV republished it on their website. I had to convince them that I wrote the story and mine was the original, and that I didn't copy it off the TV website. I lost some ciritical viewing time, I'm sure, because it wasn't there when the alert that I had published it went out. Thanks for asking.


Joseph041167 profile image

Joseph041167 4 years ago from Nashville TN 37206.

I was doing research for a journalistic piece on, "State's Push for Marijuana Legislation." I had qualms about it, because I am not a pot head, do not even dabble with it. But it was a neutral journalistic piece, that was in the news, and it lended itself to an article. I had 3 pages of notes, and five sources already. I got to looking. All the sources in Google had copyright warnings about not to use it in commercial content. This was my excuse to back out of the article, I guess. These News organizations are bad about that. Unfortanately, they have a lot of good material. And Hubpages is difficult, you have to be careful, and we can get sued also. People are always looking to sue us, especially after we go commercial.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 4 years ago Author

True, Joseph, but I have written permission to do Joey's story and use the photos and film. As great as they were about it, I couldn't deny them the privilege of republishing it. Besides with the Pinterest button on our hubs, I felt like it was hypocritical of HP. Apparently they would be happy for it to appear on Pinterest. I'm not sure that I would, though.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 3 years ago

What a lovely enchanting cat story and one of fate, karma and being in the right place at the right time - and it's so nice to meet you and we are sending you warm wishes from lake erie time ontario canada 11:00am courtesy of Colin and his 'owners' (lol) Little Miss Tiffy and Mister Gabriel .

And you were a disc jockey back in the day - how cool is that - please check out the hubs of my buddy XSTATIC , a true gentleman (like me) and a real good guy who just happened to be in the radio broadcast industry himself


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Thank you, epigramman, I have read some of xstatic's hubs, and yours, too, I think. I know I've had conversations with several people who were in radio and also a couple of writers who used to write advertising copy. It's a small world. Canada, huh? Hope to visit there someday. Say hi to Little Miss Tiffy and Mr. Gabriel for me. Someday I plan to finish Joey's story, hopefully when the political season is over and I can do it justice. Thanks for the read and the comment.


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

I'm not familiar with this TV cat, but he's really cute.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago Author

Ologsinquite, our precious Joey has been much more subdued since this hub was written, and his national career was curtailed due to health reasons. He was diagnosed with bone cancer and went through a lot. The vet surgeon thinks it was isolated in a hind leg and that it was caught in time. I was going to write another hub about Joey and his cancer, but I have had so much trouble with HP over this hub that I'm not sure it is worth the trouble. Thank you for reading and your comment.


JC 2 years ago

It's sad to say, but Joey is no longer with us......


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 24 months ago Author

JC, So sorry I missed your comment, but the last time I checked (recently) it wasn't there. Something is strange about HP. Anyway, thanks for reading.


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 20 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

I am jealous of this cat's success! It must have been pretty funny having him grow so famous across the country. It was sad to read about his mysterious death. Voted useful ;)


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 20 months ago Author

Thank you Suzanne, he was such a fun kitty and we were proud of the fame he brought to our city. It was a sad day when he died.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working