The spiritual leader and mascot of Rockin' Rudy’s, an adored feline named Saul, passed away on Monday, and social media exploded with outpourings of grief, memories, photos and support.
Bruce Micklus, the longtime owner of the store that sells gifts, music and everything in between, said Saul was well-known by thousands of customers.
“He was a star,” he said. “He would make his rounds to every station in the store every day. Everyone knew him.”
The store’s staff posted a memorial message on Facebook on Monday, titled “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” that had received more than 1,500 reactions, 223 comments and 446 shares as of Tuesday afternoon.
“It is with enormous sadness that we tell Saul’s beloved community that he took suddenly ill, and our crown prince was lost,” the message read. “He had the best veterinary care in the world, but in the end we had to let him find his peace. May he find it with Godspeed. May all of us he left his beautiful indelible mark on find some too. We will never forget his regal grace.”
Micklus and his staff remembered that throughout the day, Saul would linger on countertops, lounge in jewelry cases and blink slowly at them while sitting on their work orders. He would make casual loops around the store, where he lived, hold court with his adoring fans and take long naps on the stairs.
“There are so many things to love about being part of Rockin Rudy's,” the Facebook post read. “Saul made sure he was a good number of those.”
Saul has been featured in the Missoulian in the past. He was also written about, along with another famous Missoula shop cat named Jethro at Betty's Divine, in the University of Montana’s student newspaper, the Montana Kaimin.
Messages of condolence began pouring in under the Facebook post, with people from all over the world posting their old photos and selfies with him.
“I always loved seeing Saul ever since I was a little kid coming to Rockin Rudy’s for the first time,” wrote Keilae Marie Suprock. “He will be greatly missed.”
“Missoula holds a special spot in my family’s life,” commented Leigh Colleen. “One of our favorite stops was to see Saul. He was so patient and kind with Isla (she is 4 now).”
“RIP Saul,” posted Julie Burkhart. “I'll still instinctively look for you every trip through Rockin' Rudy's. May your Cheshire elusiveness haunt the place to succor the petting we all yearn to bestow you.”
Micklus brought home Saul and another cat named Mort (they were named after groundbreaking comedian Mort Saul) in 2012 to replace another longtime shop cat, Bubba. They were adopted from the Missoula County Animal Control via PetSmart.
“This place was a little too weird for Mort,” Micklus explained. “There’s a lot going on here. We had to give Mort to a good home. But Saul fit right in here.”
Micklus said he’ll definitely get another cat for the store at 237 Blaine St. after the busy holiday season.
Right now, though, the team at Rockin Rudy’s is missing their favorite employee.
“Early in the morning the back door of Rockin Rudy’s starts to swing open, we step into a world that smells like coffee, sounds like David Bowie and looks something like Thailand,” the store’s Facebook message read. “Saul, the cat, waits right there, greeting each of us, welcoming us home.”