Longest resident of Gibson’s Cat Café has new home, new name

By Becky Bell

First impressions may be important, but they are not always correct, according to Marli Brandon about her rescue cat, Goose.

Marli adopted Goose, whom she renamed, from the Gibson’s Cat Café in downtown Conway in January. Goose was the longest resident of Gibson’s Café, having lived there 117 days before being adopted.

Photo by Mike Kemp

Although she earned the nickname “Queen” for her fierce and dominant nature, which included hissing and clawing at potential adoptees, she nevertheless became a popular resident in the special café designed for the enjoyment of coffee and cats. Facebook posts showed love and an outpouring of support when she finally found her furever home.

Marli, 23, of Arlington, Texas, said she did not have pets while living at Bear Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus and studying to be a teacher. But later in her college career, she moved back in with her mom in Conway to get serious about finishing her education degree after having the “college experience” and to have the chance to have pets at home again.

“Since I was born, we had dogs and cats, so I don’t know what it’s like to not have them. It just doesn’t feel right,” she said. “When I got on my own, it felt weird to not have an animal. It felt odder to me not having an animal than to have one.”

Marli said she knew about Gibson’s Cat Café because her brother’s girlfriend frequents the unique business, and she told her about it. So, she had been following the café’s Instagram posts. She said Goose had been in a shelter environment since 2019, and she estimates she is maybe 4 years old. Even though social cats do well in an environment like the café, cats like Goose need a more one-on-one environment, and that’s what Marli provided for Goose.

“I think she got overlooked and I know she wasn’t the nicest. She was getting poked by kids and inundated with people every day,” Marli said. “She’s aggressive, and she bit my hand and I was bleeding before I left the café. But everything just kept telling me, ‘She hates it here.’”

So, Marli took Goose to her home in Little Rock, where she spends time in the evenings relaxing after coming home from being a 10th-grade English teacher at Sheridan High School. Counting her commute, the first-year teacher puts in 12-hour days.

She said she let Goose, whom she renamed after searching Google for cat names, and also due to her mostly fluffy white hair, explore the apartment. She didn’t touch her but gave her space. 

What happened next was something Marli thought might take days or weeks, but it didn’t even take a full hour until she saw a different side of Goose, a side she knew was underneath all that fluff and false advertisement. “I brought her home and she was a new cat,” Marli said. “I walked around and got on my bed and realized she might be under my bed. She jumped up with me and started biscuiting my blanket, and she cuddled up with me around my arm. It didn’t take her 45 minutes to get to know her surroundings.”

Marli had decided on adopting a cat over a dog because she didn’t think having a dog left alone for long workdays would make sense for a pet who needed to run and play. However, Goose, who spends about 16 hours of her day sleeping, doesn’t mind the downtime while her mom is at work. At the end of the day, she spends time with her favorite toys, which include ponytail holders and a fascinating little laser that goes everywhere and somehow can never be caught.

“It’s just amazing from what I got from the shelter to what I brought home,” Marli said. “I keep in touch with one of the owners of the café, and she’s like, ‘I still can’t believe this is the cat you have.’ All the customers wanted her to find a home and now they say, ‘The Queen finally has her palace.’”