Cali has been a fixture at the Red Carpet for years. Her whereabouts before then are tough to track down. A few regulars seem to remember that her owner moved from the East End around that time, but no one is sure whether Cali was left behind or just decided she preferred the neighborhood bar to her new home.
What is known is that about three years ago she started to gravitate to the bar, hanging out in the patio area and trying to slip in the door. And every time, Duda shooed her away.
"Then the lady regulars said, 'You can't run off a cat,' " he said. "It's not nice, you know, it's not American."
So he stopped shooing her away, took her to the vet for an exam, and let Cali settle into her new position as the Red Carpet's resident bar cat.
She's comfortable in that position: Duda keeps a heated cat house plugged in on the back patio (the heat turns on automatically when she steps inside), customers regularly bring in bags of food for her and take turns paying for her annual vet visits, and she's well loved by the bar's patronage and by the neighborhood.
Cali keeps a regular schedule: she sleeps in her heated house at the Red Carpet, is fed breakfast by staff at the bar, and then takes off to saunter around the neighborhood - often taking detours to the bakery Frutcake, where employees hand her bits of cheese out the door, and Tricky Fish, where she's given fish. She usually returns to the Carpet to meet up with some of the customers.
Debbie Greene, a Red Carpet regular, has fed Cali so many treats that the cat recognizes her truck when it pulls into the parking lot.
"I'm a treater, so she already knows me and my vehicle," she said. "She comes right up to me as I step out."
For now, though, Cali's cooped up in Duda's office above the bar during lunch hours to make sure she doesn't try to slip into the off-limits area.
"We're calling it 'Cali's dungeon,' " Duda said. "She's banned to the dungeon for now."
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.