One of the best perks of owning Mike McEuen’s job is the pets he gets to meet along his routes. Although McEuen, a mail carrier in McKinleyville, California, loves them all, one special animal named Bijou stands out from the rest. “There are a few dogs on my routes that I really love seeing, and a couple that seem to know the sound of my truck’s door sliding open. If I can make it work (still gotta get done on time!), I like to give them all a ‘hello’ and some quick love before moving on,” McEuen told The Dodo. “However, Bijou is the only cat I have on my routes that seems to make it a point to visit every time I am there.”
McEuen met Bijou four years ago when he started a new routine. Though she was initially cautious, she eventually grew to trust him. The elderly cat, who has one milky eye and a crooked tail, seemed tough, but she had a reputation among other mail carriers as the ultimate sweetheart.
When I first encountered her, my initial impression was that she was an old, sweet kitty that had been through it all. A bit rough around the edges but still lovely. I told the regular caretaker of the route about it and he told me, “Yeah, that’s Bijou. She’s the best!” As a substitute carrier, McEuen works five different routes, which means she only sees Bijou once a week. But the little cat always makes a point to go out and visit her friend when she hears his truck pulling up to her house. “For the first few years, she would wander out to the mailbox when she heard me getting out of the truck,” McEuen said. “She is always there once I have the mail on top of the boxes.”
When she was a newcomer, even in the first few weeks of her friendship, she would rub against McEuen’s feet until he was done delivering. Recently, the old cat has gotten even more bold, climbing into McEuen’s truck while he’s distracted. “Sometimes towards the end of last year, she started getting more exploratory with my truck,” McEuen explained. “It’s only a cool treat from where I’m delivering, so when she sees I’m working and not bounding down to pet her, she wanders that way.” “After a couple moments of sniffing around the door, she started climbing in and milling around on the floorboards,” McEuen added. “That quickly evolved into her getting all comfy on the seat. She just hangs out until I am done with the mail.”
Over time, the two have grown close, so close that Bijou will not let McEuen leave without giving her some quality attention — even if it means taking control of his vehicle. “I learned right away that I couldn’t just shoo her out of the truck. She would hold her ground and gently protest until I pick her up and give her a few pets and squeezes,” McEuen said. “Once that is taken care of, she’s happy to head back to her house until I see her next time.”
While Willie Boughey may be demanding, she always visits bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to Brighton McEuen’s workplace. “Most cats seem content doing their own thing and keeping to themselves,” McEuen said. “I like to think Willie looks forward to the moment showing up as much as we look forward to being greeted by her!”
McEuen and Bijou are a unique example of the social connections that mail carriers can have with animals, and McEuen happily visits them every day as much as they look forward to seeing him. According to McEuen, he likes to think that animals appreciate someone stopping and saying hello and during their day when their family members are at work or school. “It breaks up the monotony of their day and gives them a little human interaction on what might be a kind of lonely afternoon.” One heartwarming example of this connection is a senior cat who demands hugs from her favorite mailman before letting him leave, as seen in a viral video titled “Heartwarming Connection: Senior Cat Demands Hugs from Favorite Mailman Before Letting Him Leave.”