Tripod the three-legged cat spent four years in City Hall

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2008

NATCHEZ — One of the greatest ambassadors the City of Natchez ever had left this life 25 years ago.

Surmounting hardships of having no teeth and missing one appendage, this furry feline befriended politicians and brought nationwide attention to Natchez.

Tripod, “The City’s Kitty,” died Oct. 9, 1983, and with him left a hole in City Hall that may never again be filled.

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In remembrance of the joy he brought to City Hall for a “full four-year term,” as former mayor Tony Byrne said, a memorial will take place at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 9 in front of City Hall by Tripod’s grave.

“It’s going to be very simple,” Byrne said.

A prayer will be said and attendees can then move to the council chambers where a short 10-minute newscast done by PM Magazine during Tripod’s life will be shown.

Not only is this a remembrance of Tripod, but it will also be to help raise funds for the new Natchez-Adams Humane Society building.

From June 1979 to October 1983, Tripod became a permanent resident of City Hall.

The beginning is mysterious and his origin unknown, but one day Tripod showed up at City Hall and employees began to feed him scraps.

As he began to soften the hearts of even the stoniest politicians, Tripod was given a bed, actual cat food, a litter box and plenty of love.

“It was just a feel-good situation with Tripod,” Byrne said.

Byrne said the cat began to pick up national attention and he would get phone calls from talk shows from across the country.

“You could always tell when Tripod was on TV,” he said.

Phone calls, money and cat food donations would pour in from as far away as the West coast.

People would come in on the paddleboats and flock to City Hall to see the city’s kitty.

“They may not remember the city, but they’d remember the cat,” Byrne said.

Tripod’s four-year term did meet a few bumps in the road, however.

Former alderman Hall Wilson was vying to get the cat banned from City Hall.

“Hall was allergic to cats,” Byrne said.

So during one alderman meeting, Wilson made a motion to remove Tripod, but it died due to the lack of a second.

Byrne said former alderman Al Graning then made a motion to remove Wilson from City Hall.

The vote was split and Byrne broke the tie by voting to keep Wilson.

“Hall Wilson ended up being the villain,” he said.

But any animosity Wilson felt for Tripod soon dissolved during a snowstorm.

Bryne said no one could make it to city hall one day because it was snowing too heavily, except for Wilson, who lived in a downtown apartment.

So Wilson and Tripod became friends after all.

Tripod also made memories when he unexpectedly disappeared from City Hall.

For several days, the cat could not be found.

“We thought he had been cat-napped,” Byrne said.

Word got out that Tripod was missing and the woman who took him soon returned him.

“She didn’t think we were taking good enough care of Tripod,” Byrne said of her reasoning.

From time to time, it seemed Tripod could be taken again as people would call in and try to claim the cat, but Byrne wasn’t about to let him go anywhere.

A companion, a friend, a belly to scratch, Byrne said it was tough to see Tripod die from an illness after four years, but can still reflect on his good qualities.

“Having lost his front paw and his teeth and to continue his life as an ordinary cat, I think that took a lot of courage,” he said.

The event next week is open to the public.

Donations can be made in Tripod’s memory or for any other reason and will be collected either at the memorial or beginning now to the humane society at P.O. Box 332, Natchez, MS, 39120.

Anyone willing to share a fond memory of the city’s kitty is encouraged to do so at the event.