Pumpkin the cat, the winner of several The Athens News Best of Athens Awards and a viral internet sensation on Twitter and Reddit, has become a popular public figure over the last decade within and beyond the city of Athens.
He has resided in the Athens County Board of Elections office since 2012, where he is taken care of by office staff.
Pumpkin’s History at the Board
Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey and late Deputy Director Penny Brooks first encountered Pumpkin after returning from a trip to the post office, Quivey says. The two overheard a couple arguing about the cat’s future in an apartment near the board.
Quivey and Brooks then decided to step in and rescue him but had initially hoped to find him a home elsewhere.
An attempt to hide Pumpkin temporarily in a closet while they searched for potential owners failed, as the cat escaped and made his first appearance in the window of the Board of Elections’ Court Street office.
Quivey says it was one of Pumpkin’s most memorable moments, as passersby quickly snapped photos. Following his debut to the public, Quivey says the board members voted to approve his permanent residence in the office.
Bonds Formed in the Office
Pumpkin grieved significantly for Brooks following her passing in 2020, Quivey says. Tony Brooks II, Penny’s son, is now currently serving as the Board of Elections’ deputy director.
Quivey says Pumpkin is typically less affectionate toward men due to a suspected past of abuse prior to his rescue. However, despite this, Quivey says Pumpkin is warming up to Brooks.
“Well, he [Pumpkin] owns the place. I don’t know how to explain it other than he owns the place. I mean, he’s just been here, lived here, been here for so long. He’s just like a mascot for the Board of Elections,” Quivey says.
Quivey says Pumpkin is generally healthy, experiencing only a few minor health issues during his time at the Board of Elections. She hopes to see him remain in the office into his old