Pets bring out the best in us. Some of the coolest and most creative people in Phoenix have been influenced by the unconditional love of their furry friends. In some cases, a community has even been built around them. We visited the owners of these pets to see how they changed lives for the better.
Taxicat the Bar Cat, the official mascot of Gracie’s Tax Bar
Since Gracie’s Tax Bar opened in 2017, the come-as-you-are bar with an eclectic jukebox and cheap libations has created a deeper sense of community with downtown Phoenix dwellers. That feeling has been passed on when caring for Taxicat the Bar Cat, a gray female short-haired feline who has become Gracie’s official mascot. Taxicat is so popular that one of the watering hole's regulars (who wishes to remain anonymous) created the Instagram account @barcat420 to document all of her shenanigans. Both bar owner Grace Perry and the regular dished all the goods to Phoenix New Times.
Phoenix New Times: How did you get Taxicat the Bar Cat?
Grace Perry: To be honest, we did not choose her, she chose us. For months, [Taxicat the] Bar Cat would only come onto the patio after-hours while the staff was closing, only allowing a few of us to pet her. After a while, she started coming to visit earlier and earlier, and now allows many regulars to snuggle her for hours.
How long has Taxicat the Bar Cat resided at Gracie’s?
@barcat420: She’s been coming around Gracie’s since September or October of 2018.
What are some fun or crazy facts about Taxicat the Bar Cat?
Perry: She is very territorial of Gracie's, and will not allow any other cats to come visit.
@barcat420: She loves tater tots and cuddles, but can be a little bitey when she’s done with you.
What other tidbits you would like everyone to know about Taxicat the Bar Cat?
Perry: Her favorite spot is in on the bench by the back patio door. Her favorite place to be scratched is right above her tail.
@barcat420: Please just respect her if you come into Gracie’s. It is her home and we all want her to stay around for a long time.
How has Taxicat influenced your life and the overall environment at Gracies?
Perry: My personal feeling is she makes staff and patrons feel at home, and she truly loves the attention.
@barcat420: She hasn’t influenced my own life, as much as she’s changed the sense of community for everyone at Gracie’s. When she got sick, we all took care of her and raised money to get her help [treatment], vaccinated, and spayed. We all have an affection and sense of responsibility for Taxi that her [Instagram] page has helped grow beyond just the regular patrons.
Nate Ray of James World and Rotting Yellow
When he’s not slinging drinks and serving food at Crescent Ballroom during lunch, you can find Nate Ray playing in the bands James World and Rotting Yellow. He took a few moments to talk about his pet cat, Spongebob.
How did you get Spongebob?
Nate Ray: My brother, Harrison, and I got Spongebob from the Humane Society in South Phoenix. We met a few cats, but Spongebob connected with us immediately. When you know, you know.
How long have you had Spongebob?
We got her just over two years ago.
What are some fun or crazy facts about Spongebob?
She is what you’d call a polydactyl cat. The front two paws have three toes each and one semi-working claw on one of them [paw]. Then the back two paws are closer to E.T.’s hands. So she’s about as nimble as a dog and walks a little weird. She’s also pretty tiny at only seven pounds.
She’s very clumsy because of her paws. I somehow have collected five videos of her falling off things or climbing. Most [videos] are on the @spongeandtony Instagram.
What other tidbits you would like everyone to know about Spongebob?
She’ll sit out front, or out back, in the same spot for hours “protecting the house” when she seriously couldn’t hurt a fly. One time, she brought a whole dove in through the cat door and it was completely fine.
How has Spongebob influenced your life?
Spongebob has been the first life I’ve been responsible for probably ever. So she influenced my life quite a bit, being 25, playing in bands and working in bars.
Lara Plecas of Desert Crafted
Lara Plecas, owner of Desert Crafted, a boutique featuring goods from the Southwest on Seventh Avenue and Thomas Road, has a literal farm in her Phoenix home.
The artist, who is a former member of the Eye Lounge art collective on Roosevelt Row, prides herself on building community through the abundant resources that the desert community has to offer.
What are the names of your pets?
Lara Plecas: Cats: Margot and Penelope, Sulcata; Tortoise: Charlie, Ameraucana; Chicken: Dottie, Laced Wyandotte; Chicken: Sandy, Cuckoo Maran; Chicken: Lacey.
How did you get your pets?
Plecas: We found a litter of kittens in our neighborhood and adopted two of the sisters. We were cooking pizzas outdoors and heard the kittens meowing. When we discovered them, they were just a week or so old. The mother cat seemed to have abandoned the liter, so we took care of them and found them homes. We had to bottle feed them for a few weeks.
We bought the original chickens from breeders that live in Queen Creek and adopted them from someone when they moved from a ranch in Cave Creek. I adopted the tortoise [Charlie] from an artist friend in town.
How long have you had all your pets?
All for about five years.
What are some fun or crazy facts about any of your pets?
The tortoise could live to be over 100 years old. She is an African Sulcata, the third-largest tortoise breed in the world.
What other tidbits would you like everyone to know about any of your pets?
One of our cats, Penelope, has a "P" shape on her back. It looks like it was spray-painted on her in white paint. Our last name is Plecas, so it is kind of funny.
How have your pets influenced your life?
I think having pets enriches your life in many ways. The unconditional love and endless entertainment are the best things about having pets. Fresh organic eggs are great, too!
Trevor Hedges of Sundressed
Trevor Hedges of the Valley emo band Sundressed is usually out on tour most of the year. When he’s home, you can find him working as a barista at various coffee shops in the Valley and being an influencer for Oatly. The musician owns Emmy Lou, a Catahoula / Rottweiler mix, who he's had for six years.
How did you get Emmy?
Rescued from a sketchy Craigslist ad.
What are some fun/crazy facts about Emmy?
Emmy is an expert frisbee catcher. She’s very smart and intuitive. I’ve seen her dive to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a frisbee!
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What other tidbits would you like everyone to know about Emmy?
Emmy has been with me through so many life changes and has been my one constant in my wild touring life. There have been many times she has saved my life without knowing it.
How has Emmy influenced your life and career endeavors?
She is actually a big inspiration to many songs and has taught me a lot about unconditional love. She was also on one of our most popular shirt designs!