There was a small celebration of sorts this month among a group of friends. Sally Cat, a 6-pound tiger feline, turned 20.
There was no cake. Sally was happy just with her favorite Fancy Feast dish.
A life-long resident of Williamsport, Sally may be one of the oldest living cats in the region. However, that really can't be proven.
Sally Cat, a gray tiger cat, celebrated her 20th birthday with friends and owner, Sun-Gazette police reporter Phil Holmes, earlier this month. Sally is pictured wearing her birthday crown.
When Sally was born back in September 1992, George Bush was in the White House. The first George Bush, that is. Now that's old for a cat.
She was first adopted as a kitten by Williamsport couple Ed and Sue Erb and their two elementary school-aged sons, Philip and Andrew. The boys gave the kitten her name.
Ed Erb was a local church organist and choir director and Sue was the editor of the Lifestyle section for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. The family lived less than a block from Williamsport Hospital.
The Erbs had learned from another Sun-Gazette staffer at the time, Jan Ogurcak, that a part-time correspondent who lived in a trailer in Antes Fort had a litter of kittens for sale. Sally came from that litter. It was unknown how many were in the litter. It was also unknown if any of Sally's brothers and sisters might still be living.
In the summer of 1993, as the Erbs were preparing to move to Hershey and sell their home, Sally moved to another property in the same neighborhood rented by Sun-Gazette police reporter Phil Holmes. It was suppose to be only a temporary placement - but things change. The Erbs thought Sally, who was an indoor cat, would be more secure at Phil's house while a real estate agent was showing their home to prospective buyers.
Well, Sally has stayed with Phil for the last 19 years.
While she shared the Erb house with a dog, with Phil, she always had the place to herself.
While living on Rural Avenue next to the hospital, Sally was an avid bird watcher. When her undivided attention focused on a bird, her lower jaw would start to tremble and she would make a slight crying sound.
One flying thing she could not stand at all was Geisinger Medical Center's Life Flight helicopter, which was needed to transport critically injured or ill patients to the Montour County facility.
The helicopter landed often on the hospital's roof. Dogs, cats and other animals are known to have very sensitive hearing.
The loud noise of the helicopter blades made Sally uncomfortable. For several months, she would race the hallway in Holmes' second-floor apartment whenever she heard the helicopter approach - or take off from - the hospital.
"Eventually she settled down. She would jump off the bed whenever she heard the helicopter approach or take off, but she stopped racing the halls," Holmes said.
One of Sally's joys, besides eating, of course, is burying herself in a blanket and hiding in "her tent," as one friend noted.
Several years ago, Phil had a medical scare of sorts in the middle of the night.
"I awoke with this heaviness on my chest and thought 'Am I having a heart attack?' Then I realized Sally, then weighing a healthy 14 pounds, was sitting on top of me," Holmes said.
"While Sally is very friendly to me, I'm afraid she is pretty much a loner, even more so as she has aged," Holmes said.
In 2008, local artist Eve Archer, using a photo from 2007, did a painting of Sally.
A retired Williamsport Area School District art teacher, Eve featured Sally's painting among those she had on display at the Ways Garden Arts and Crafts Show in early June of that year.
"For the most part, Sally has been in excellent health. She gets good care at home and excellent care at the Loyalsock Animal Hospital," Holmes said.
A few months after Sally was born, Time magazine named Bill Clinton its Man of the Year for 1992.
Anyone who saw the recent Democratic National Convention knows that Bill Clinton is still around, so is Sally Cat.
Happy Birthday, Sally.