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The Old Town Cat House

Updated on April 22, 2012

The Old Town Cat House Interview

Old town Albuquerque New Mexico is one of those rare places that draw you in the moment you drive by it. There is no avoiding the colors, smells, sights, and sounds. The energy and feel of the streets and alleys is like that of none other that I have ever experienced. One of the oldest towns in North America, the legends, folklore, ghost stories and history seem to come to life as you walk the plaza and through 300 years of history.

The Historic Albuquerque Old Town area has been the heart of the city since it was founded by Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdez in 1706. Old Town has continued to thrive for over three centuries. Today, historic Old Town Albuquerque is the city's cultural center, with five museums, galleries, local vendors and restaurants.

The historic buildings and alleys conceal the long-forgotten secrets of battles, murders, hangings, and hidden cemeteries. The settlers organized their new town in the traditional Spanish colonial way, with a central plaza anchored by a church. The original adobe church San Felipe de Neri, still stands in the middle of the plaza today. Old Town's history is as long and varied as its present day residents. Spanish Conquistadors explored the area in 1540 in search of God and Gold and The legendary Seven Cities of Cibola. Wild West legends such as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Billy the Kid are each rumored to have passed through town.

The coming of the Santa Fe Railroad caused a move to the new Town in 1880. In 1930 the arrival of Route 66 brought people back to Old Town. Merchants traveled the nearby Santa Fe Trail and the El Camino Real in search of trade. Today there are well over 100 shops in the Old town Plaza. Recently I was given the privilege of interviewing one of those shop owners for the cities 306th Founder's Day.

The old town cat house is one of over 100 shops in the Old town shopping center and has been operating for over twenty years. Nancy, (who only likes to be known by her first name) arrived in Old Town New Mexico in 1969. Falling in love with the tranquility, the birds, flowers and charm of the area, she has been here ever since. In 1983 she opened her first store which consisted of greeting cards with a small corner section for the feline lovers. When business started to dwindle in the greeting card business, Nancy decided to change her focus and concentrated her business on the cat corner and expanded her whole store to accommodate the cat lovers. She laughs as she tells me that it was either switch to cats or get a real 9-5 job. The cats won hands down!

I confessed to Nancy during our interview that I had a hard time finding the actual owner of The Old Town Cat House. When I started doing research for this article, everywhere I searched, I kept turning up Eloise Evans as the owner of the store. I asked her if Eloise Evans was her real name. "Oh Lord no! My real name is Nancy". So who on earth is Eloise Evans? It turns out that Eloise was Nancy's father’s cat! The cat was named after the 1950s children’s books "Eloise" by Kay Thompson. So why name” Eloise the cat” as the official store owner? She laughs as she tells me that "it allows me to keep all the credit card and insurance salesman at bay. If they ask for Eloise, I know it's because they are trying to sell me something". I guess that if you hang around cats long enough, you tend to become just as cleaver.

I had many serious questions that I wanted to ask of someone who had owned a successful business for over 20 years. I knew that I could not end the interview without asking the question that I was so curious about. Had anyone ever confused her business for a real cat house? To my utter amazement her answer was yes! Not just once but twice! I can only imagine how hard it must have been for her to tell those customers that the only goodies she sold where for cats only! I suppose that it shouldn’t have surprised me. I guess that if you stick around in the same location long enough you’re bound to have some great stories and trust me when I say that Nancy has a ton of great ones!

I asked Nancy what her most memorable customer had been in her many years of retail. She smiles as she recalls all the wonderful artists which have visited her tiny, fun filled store. She also takes the time to tell me the story of the day when Mary Travers of the Peter, Paul and Mary music fame visited her store and carried her kitten on her shoulder as she shopped around the store. I wish that I could have passed along all the wonderful stories that I had the privilege of listening to while conducting this interview.

Nancy has been previously quoted as saying that you she doesn’t like to do interviews. I had to ask her why? She proceeds to tell me that after the interviews, come the Groupies. They come by daily to hang out for hours at the store. For someone who prides herself on giving each customer personalized attention I can begin to see where this would be a burden. She also mentions to me the dumping of cats after interviews. She tells me "people are under the impression that I'm here constantly to care for these cats" Sadly I am informed that most of the cats dumped off outside her business get brutally attacked, maimed and sometimes killed by the local loose dogs in the area. The ones that do miraculously survive will breed, multiply and are a costly burden on the pocketbooks of the shop owners in order to keep them fed. With that being said, I advise anyone reading this article to please use the local SPCA shelter not the Old Town Cat house to drop off cats!

I want to thank Nancy for the wonderful privilege of allowing me time out of her day to ask her the questions for this interview. I want to highly recommend that anyone visiting the Albuquerque New Mexico area spend at least a day experiencing Old Town. While you’re there, make sure to stop in and say hello to Nancy. Let her know that you read about her on Hub pages!

One of the great products that you will find in her store located in Old town is the cat favorite Wild catnip cigars bought in from Pennsylvania. She also carries a wonderful array of Laural Burch merchandise and wonderful one of kind pieces from local artists. If you can't get to her physical address make sure to visit her on the web and pick up some goodies for the feline in your life.

EDITORS NOTE: Locals are always welcomed to drop off cat food donations at her business to help feed the local feral cats which are living in the area and could not be captured from prior interviews.


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    • Maddambutterfly profile image

      Marie V Stephens 5 years ago from New Mexico

      thank you everyone for the comments. It was a huge pleasure spending the day in old town and spending time with Nancy at her store!

    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina_writes 5 years ago from Dartmoor

      Wonderful hub. Makes me want to visit. i love our main photo too. Rating up.

    • alliemacb profile image

      alliemacb 5 years ago from Scotland

      This is a great hub. Really enjoyed reading it.

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      I enjoyed it too, a really quirky shop and shop owner and you interviewed her well.

    • Marsei profile image

      Sue Pratt 5 years ago from New Orleans

      I am thrilled to be the first to comment on this hub. I enjoyed this so much. It is beautifully written and because I am a cat lover, I am facinated with the whole idea of the "cat house." I am ready for a shopping spree at the Old Town Cat House, and I thank you for this neat hub. It was a bit of a change of pace from the norm and, for that reason, totally refreshing.

      Voted up.