Bayview resident Birdi Adams gives Mr. Pickles a scratch and some loving . Adams is one of many "moms" who take care of the cat. 

Bayview resident Birdi Adams gives Mr. Pickles a scratch and some loving . Adams is one of many "moms" who take care of the cat. 

When a stranger meandered his way into the Bayview Retirement Community on Queen Anne about four years ago for a quick catnap, residents reached out with open arms. 

The unknown visitor was none other than Mr. Pickles, a cat from a nearby house that had apparently decided it liked the people and atmosphere at Bayview better than his original owner. He began to make regular visits to the retirement community for more than a year before his original owner moved away from the area.

The neighbor asked the people at Bayview if they would be willing to take care of the cat and the residents welcomed Mr. Pickles (just “Pickles” for short) into their home.

“We have these automatic doors and [Mr. Pickles] found out that if he stood at a certain spot, the doors would fly open for him,” said Kathy Watanabe, one of Mr. Pickles’ many “moms” at the home. “At first he would come and warm himself by the fireplace, every day in the wintertime.”

Pickles, a large brown tabby cat estimated to be about 10 years old (that’s about 60 in cat years), stays mostly on the lobby level of the large complex.

“He pretty much owns the lobby,” said Mary Swartz, one of Bayview’s admissions coordinators.  “But he knows to stay out of the dining area; he’s caught on pretty quick.”

Birdi Adams, another one of his “moms,” knows why he catches on so fast.

“He’s a smart cat!,” Adams explains. “When he wants water, he wants fresh water. He’ll wait by the sink until I get water for him, even if he has a dish right there.  He’ll also drink more if I stand right by.”

The four years that Pickles has stayed at the facility have provided many stories for his caregivers to share.

“Once, we couldn’t find him anywhere but I could hear this ‘meow, meow.’ Finally, for whatever reason, I looked up!” said Adams.  

Pickles had somehow gotten himself stuck in the area between the ceiling and the next floor up.

 “When we finally got up there to get him, he was perfectly happy and didn’t want to come down,” Adams said.

While Pickles is well loved, he has a definite mind of his own.

“He’s not a super lovey-dovey cat,” said Watanabe. “Once, after picking him up to move him around, he then hit me on the foot, walked away, came back, and hit me again!” 

Years ago, Bayview had a no-pet policy, until a blind resident moved in with a guide dog.  Since then, residents have been able to have pets as long as they provide a deposit in advance.  

“Most pets live with their owners,” said Swartz. But Pickles isn’t the only one who lives in the facility’s common areas. Downstairs live two other cats, Frankie Blue Eyes and Tom.  

Pickles and the other cats rarely interact; he’s more of a people-person. As soon as a group of ladies from the home started talking about him, he came running.  

Marion Watanabe, a resident and relative of Kathy Watanabe’s, described a time when Pickles dropped in on a monthly meeting between residents and Bayview’s CEO.  

“Rich [Tomlinson] got up to start the meeting and he said, ‘Now, if that resident would just sit in a chair we could start this meeting.’ … I’m not sure if it was by accident, but Pickles got right up and sat in a chair.”

He’s become an everyday fixture in the community and famous for eyeing the aquarium, dozing off near heaters or fireplaces and even disrupting movie nights by walking in front of the screen.

“Once we had a mamma duckling and 10 baby ducks down in the terrace fountain. Well Pickles, he found out about that,” said Swartz. “One night he got down there and mother duck came after him so badly … he did no damage whatsoever.”

Despite his antics, Pickles is a loved member of the community. Rubbing up against residents’ canes and sleeping on top of their newspapers, he loves the attention he gets from entire retirement community.

“The other cats, they’re all sort of ‘property of Bayview’” said Swartz.  “We went out and chose the other cats, but Mr. Pickles, he chose us.”