Love Garden says goodbye to a friend

There wasn't a funeral for Cayenne, the tortoiseshell tabby who graced [Love Garden Sounds][1] for 14 years.Instead, in the moments before she was to put to sleep Tuesday afternoon, store employees came to the animal hospital to pay their final respects. Store co-owner Kory Willis and his wife, Katie Conrad, then sat by while the veterinarian administered the final injection.And on Wednesday night, the couple had a few friends and colleagues over to their house, to hold a wake of sorts."We're going to get together, have some pictures of her, get together and hang out," Willis said beforehand.The death of a pet is usually a private tragedy. But this city gets some of its funkiness from the animals that live in downtown shops among customers, books, albums and cash registers. So word of Cayenne's death spread quickly along Massachusetts Street this week, and Willis found himself taking condolences from the employees and owners of other shops."I've been astounded," Willis said Wednesday afternoon. "It's been 24 hours, and I'm amazed at how many people know. She was very popular."Cayenne was Love Garden's second cat. Willis picked her up in 1991 from a friend who didn't want to handle the high-spirited feline."Cayenne was such a spazz that she was driving the other cats crazy," Willis said. "So he asked if we could bring her up there, and everybody just fell in love with her." Cayenne was "extremely sweet," Willis said. "She loved to jump on things, including people's backs. We had a regular customer who was kind of gruff. He came in one day looking through new arrivals, and Cayenne just jumped up on his back. Even he had to smile."The tabby went through a patch of rough health in 1998, spending a couple of weeks in an animal hospital while fighting kidney problems."She pulled through," Willis said. "It just came back last week."The shop was a little quieter on Wednesday."It's pretty sad," Willis said. "When you come in here in the morning -- I open five days a week -- she was the first cat who would greet you. It was pretty sad to come in this morning and have her not be here."There is some circle-of-life good news in all of this. Willis and Conrad have a friend who will compost Cayenne's body; they'll use the compost to plant catnip in their yard.Three cats remain at Love Garden, though two are on medications for diabetes. Jack, the first and oldest, is still going strong. Customers will still find themselves contending with furballs as they browse for the obscure audio gems.Soon, there might even be four furballs again."We stopped at four (cats), that's where we capped it," Willis said. "After our period of mourning, we can find a new one." [1]:


Sarah Mathews 14 years, 1 month ago

I thought this was a really nice blog. You're right- Love Garden cats help make Lawrence Lawrence.

middayrambler 14 years, 1 month ago

Joel, Thank you so much for the story about Cayenne. Thanks also to everybody who has fond memories of our little princess and has written nice things about her.She was one of the sweetest and feistiest cats I've known (I saw her school a Rottweiler once, really!) With the work and guidance of our friend Tim Evans, her body is returning to the earth. Less sentimental people can say she was just a cat.Those of us who knew her and spent time with her can say she was a true and loving companion. Kory Willis

trainyardzero 14 years, 1 month ago

that's a bummer! rest in peace, cayenne!

tawni 14 years, 1 month ago

As a former Love Garden employee presently living in Los Angeles, I am so saddened to hear about the passing of the sweetest, spunkiest kitty to ever brighten up a record store. My heartfelt condolences to Kory, Zippy, Jon and everyone else who was touched by this little soul. She will always be remembered.

JasonWillis 14 years, 1 month ago

Thanks to Joel & everyone (esp Kory for passing along the link) for these posts. Cayenne (named for one of my favorite seasonings & due to her "spicy" nature) was my cat before she had the good fortune to become a part of the Love Garden family, and there's no way she could've had a better life anywhere else than what she experienced there. Since I was working at Love Garden at the time it was pretty win/ win for me as well; I still got to be around her every day, but she had much more room to run around in & many more friendly hands to sidle up to & nuzzle. As one of the sweetest and most charming cats of all time, I know she will be missed by everyone who knew her (and proof of this I suppose is in seeing her effect from 995 miles away). Thanks again.


David Ryan 14 years, 1 month ago

I knew this kitty from my trips to Love Garden. I'm not sure if it was Cayenne, but a kitty there has leapt onto my shoulder whilst I perused the CD's.

Thanks for the story, Joel.

liz 14 years, 1 month ago

Great obit. Cayenne will be missed. I guess this officially makes the Cayenne buttons a collector's item.

endsabruptly 14 years, 1 month ago

I dunno. I mean it's sad and all, but the whole sappy blog seems kind of flakey.

Colby 14 years, 1 month ago

Cayenne was my favorite cat besides Jack. I will be supporting my Cayenne button tonight in remembrance.

lazz 14 years, 1 month ago

Composting a cat?

To grow catnip?


err ... hmmmm ... for starters, bone does not normally decompose in compost. So ... ummm ..... hmmmm .... OK, interesting ....

Joel 14 years, 1 month ago

It's true. I'm curious about the process, though, and hope to follow up with a report -- not about Cayenee -- soon.

Michael Austin 14 years, 1 month ago

Okay.. warn us before you talk about that one. I don't like to even think about the "after death" parts ;)

We Americans have way too many rituals and procedures after death that I have given up on all of that. Don't ask don't tell!

Joel 14 years, 1 month ago

endsabruptly: I'm pretty sure you could say that about my entire output. To each his/her own.

Shelby 14 years, 1 month ago

I love cats, and I love Love Garden, and I love their cats.

Rob Gillaspie 14 years, 1 month ago

endsabrubtly: Perhaps if you knew anything about the core of our downtown community, you would understand a little better...

thomgreen 14 years, 1 month ago

Other than being a great local music store, Love Garden was unique thanks to the cats. Its very peaceful to sit there listening to a record and petting a cat (except for the people allergic to cats). Its always hard to lose a dear member of the family. Sappy or not, thanks for the blog Mr. Mathis.

Terry Bush 14 years, 1 month ago

Yep - having a VIABLE and thriving downtown, where cats are accepted and normal in many shops, is one of the many reasons why people of all stripes continue to love living in Lawrence. I personally LOVE it and make a point of shopping in such places. If you don't understand, well, you may not enjoy Lawrence downtown very much.... May I suggest instead shopping at one of the many big malls in Johnson county?

I, for one, hope the dearly departed Cayenne is in some spirit world chocked full of all the cat toys and backs her heart desires!

Shelby 14 years, 1 month ago

Cat Heaven is a place on Earth--and it is a garden.

Sappy blog.

Thank you Joel.

OtherJoel 14 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, Joel you big sap.

Actually, as a cat owner and Love Garden fan, I am pretty sad about Cayenne's passing. I remember her, though I have not had the pleasure of having her jump on my shoulder. So I'm a big ol' sap too.

edie_ 14 years, 1 month ago

I loved Cayenne and her air of spunk and verve. She led me to some of the best records in my collection. Thanks especially, Joel, for including that gorgeous photo of the real queen of downtown Lawrence.

joemiller 14 years, 1 month ago

Good story! (turns out i was already registered. Took several tries to remember my user name -- which, if you'll note the name, is sort of embarrassing).

Rigg 14 years, 1 month ago

That was very Posnanski-esque.

Good job, Joel.

DJ_Trainwreck 14 years, 1 month ago

I no longer live in Lawrence and haven't been to Love Garden in over two years but this is such sad news to me. The cats are definitely an integral part of LG.

My condolences to Kori and Katie, the Love Garden employees and customers


Joel 14 years, 1 month ago

Thanks, all.

I'm not inclined to write about just ANY feline, but here's my math:

Cats help make Love Garden Love Garden. Love Garden helps make Lawrence Lawrence. Thus, cats at Love Garden help make Lawrence Lawrence.

No man is an island, etc., etc.....

Michael Austin 14 years, 1 month ago

Sometimes it takes the death of a cat to learn of said cat's name.. this seems like an odd alternate reality piece of yesterdays blog Joel.

Places, especially bookstores with cats in them always seem more homey. A nice comfy place. Manhattan Ks has a nice bookstore like that, and comfy chairs. Just seemed like a home away from home.

But, I am sappy, and I like animals....

Joel 14 years, 1 month ago


You're right -- I almost hesitated to write about Cayenne so soon after the Marla Ruzicka blog.

Like I said above: pet deaths are ordinarily a private tragedy. But cats are so much of LG's identity -- and LG an integral part of downtown -- that Cayenne's death had an unusually public aspect to it. I don't think it trivializes my feelings about Marla Ruzicka's death to recognize that Cayenne's passing also affected people.

Life is composed of Big Moments and Small Moments. It's easier to recognize the Big Moments ... but the beauty of the blog is that I can spend a few moments on the small ones.

And yes, that makes me a sappy Joe Posnanski wannabe. I plead guilty.

Nick Spacek 14 years, 1 month ago

Oh, hell. I wondered why it was so quiet in there yesterday evening.


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