Coaster the cat makes his mark in downtown Camas

Feline is loved by children and adults at Lutz Hardware

A former homeless kitten has grown up to become a beloved addition at Lutz Hardware.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, Coaster took a cat nap among the din of the Drylok Masonry Waterproofer display. The promotion of the waterproofing paint included the soft sounds of a water feature.

Jenny Berry and her husband Joe, of Vancouver, were shopping at Lutz for the first time that day.

“Look at the kitty,” Jenny said, as she noticed Coaster relaxing on a stack of 60G garnet sandpaper and a soft cat toy, near a copy machine.

“I love it,” she added, regarding the 13-year-old male cat. “It emphasizes that it’s a small town store. It gives it a homey feel.”

Bert Brumbaugh, a clerk at Lutz, said perhaps the rough texture of the sandpaper is similar to that of Coaster’s mother’s tongue.

Coaster was ­discovered by Lutz employee Bob Healy 13 years ago near Harvest Community Church, on Prune Hill.

Coaster was with three other kittens in a box. People at the church found homes for the other three, while Healy showed Coaster to Rosie and Barry Lutz.

Aaron’s parents owned the store at that time. Coaster was ill when he was found, but Rosie said he was perfect for them.

The hardware store had previously been named Coast to Coast.

A 5-year-old boy submitted the name “Coaster,” in a name-the-cat contest, and he won $50 in cash.

Nowadays, Aaron takes Coaster home.

“The cat stayed with the house,” Rosie said.

Aaron purchased his parents’ house, in Camas, eight years ago. He has since moved to a different house, within Camas.

Rosie and Barry moved to Stevenson, but they plan to return to Camas.

Lutz Hardware has 13 employees, including Rosie, who is retired. She works at the store one day a week.

After hours, Coaster sometimes climbs on the merchandise while Aaron cleans and straightens the inventory.

“It’s like he’s going through a jungle,” Aaron said. “He’s just a fun guy. He sleeps ‘til noon, follows me and sleeps again.

“When it’s time to go home, he will stretch and do the downward dog and upward dog [yoga positions],” he added.

At home, Coaster seems to enjoy antagonizing Lutz’s dog Cassie, 7.

“They just play and have fun,” Aaron said.

Cassie is named after one of Aaron’s grandmothers.

On sunny days at Lutz Hardware, Coaster can sometimes be found in a window that features a view of Natalia’s Cafe.

“When he finds a sunbeam, he will lay on it,” Aaron said.

The window sill has various artifacts, from Del Greeley’s barn in Camas.

Brad Smith, 17, of Camas, has been to Lutz at least six times.

“You have a tough life, don’t you?” Smith said jokingly to the feline, during a recent visit. “He’s so used to people petting him that he doesn’t care. He just tolerates you.”

A younger admirer, from Carson, was shy at first, but she returned after eating lunch at Burgerville with her parents.

“That’s a nice cat,” Chloe Oium, 2, said, after petting Coaster.

Lutz Hardware General Manager Jeremy “Sho” Shojinaga said Coaster follows him and Aaron around the store.

“For the most part, he keeps to himself,” Shojinaga said, regarding the cat which was declawed when it was owned by Rosie and Barry.

“He still has sharp rear claws,” he added. “If I am sitting, Coaster will jump on my legs to get to the counter.”Shojinaga has rescued five cats.

“There are people who bring their kids here, just to see Coaster,” he said.

“It’s always nice to see him sitting in the basket,” said Lutz customer Larry Keister. “He is the steward of the hardware store.”

Keister and his wife, Sherri, have rescued six cats.

Coaster is usually at Lutz Hardware, 505 N.E. Fourth Ave, Camas, Tuesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is also open Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Monday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The store, opened by Barry’s parents, George and Cassie Lutz, on Feb. 14, 1950, carries paint, plumbing and electrical supplies, lawn and garden equipment, hardware and housewares.