by Layla Morgan Wilde
Long before cat cafes, cats have provided entertainment on and off the screen. Meet Genny, the blind wondercat, the latest resident theater cat who steals the show at the Cinema Theater in Rochester, NY. Born with no eyes, Genny has no trouble surveying her domain and demands the best seat in the house. She follows her nose through wafts of buttered popcorn to any seat she chooses.
The friendly tabby was adopted last year from Lollypop Farm Humane Society of Greater Rochester by the new theater owners, Audrey Kramer and Alex Chernavsky. The shelter has innovative adoption programs, including one for working cats. Traditionally, working cat programs provide feral or unadoptable cats housing and care as barn cats. Lollypop Farm offers two programs to suit more adoptable cats in less conventional homes. Genny was a kitten and considered less adoptable because of her lack of vision. Her personality suited a different kind of adoption, and the landmark Art Deco building became her home recently. Her full name is historic, too: Genny Bock; named after the Genesee Brewing Company, the local brewery since 1878.
The Cinema Theater is one of the oldest movie theaters in the U.S. and has a long history of resident theater cats. People would drive for miles for a glimpse or swish of entertainment of the furry kind. For many years Princess Baby provided purrs of enjoyment to theater goers, but she passed away in 2013. Later that year One-Eyed Sue, a senior tabby, became the new resident kitty. She ruled the roost until June 2017. Patrons adored her, and she made the local news as an adoption advocate. She exited stage right for the great theater in the sky, but her Facebook page, One-eyed Sue movie reviews and other thoughts, remains as a legacy.
In January 2018 the theater was ready for Act II. Audrey and Alex took over the theater, adding their own flair. They are equally passionate about films and cats. The two vegans met while working at the Lollypop Farms shelter in 2009 and got married in the theater.
Genny plays an active role as a shelter adoption advocate simply by being herself. Movie patrons may have to look twice to realize she has no eyes. Then the aha moment: She’s just like any other cat! She will follow in the footsteps of other blind cat advocates, like the famous Homer the blind cat and Oskar of Oskar and Klaus, who navigated their world as if sighted.
Genny needed company, and Bo, a delightful 20-pound tabby, joined the family. Together they are the purrfect double feature. The Cinema Theater will also host pet adoption events.
The $5.00 evening double feature ($3.00 for a matinée) is the best deal in town, and, if you’re lucky, you might share the silver screen with a cat on your lap.
If you don’t want a furry tail to swish by your seat, there is a cat-free balcony.
~Layla Morgan Wilde is a cat expert, advocate, author and founder of Cat Wisdom 101. Read Cole’s story in her award-winning nonprofit book Black Cats Tell All:True Tales And Inspiring Images. Available on Amazon. Follow her @catwisdom101 and her black cat community on Instagram @blackcatsofIG