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New Summit Cat, Nimbus, Finds Home At Mount Washington Observatory

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Mount Washington Observatory
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There’s a new top cat on the rock pile.

The staff of the Mount Washington Observatory have adopted a new feline companion: a 1-year-old short-hair named Nimbus.

For almost a century, the summit station has usually kept at least one cat as a mouser, mascot and pet for the overnight weather observers.

Their last cat, Marty, died in November after 12 years on top of the tallest mountain in the Northeast.

His successor, Nimbus, came to the Conway Area Humane Society via Oklahoma and moved up to the summit a few weeks ago. Nimbus is fuzzy and gray like the rainclouds for which he’s named. 

Summit operations manager Rebecca Scholand said in an interview that any good observatory cat needs to be approachable, self-sufficient and able to "promote itself in front of folks" as the nonprofit's unofficial mascot.

Nimbus fit the bill, she said: he's friendly and inquisitive, and he loves to explore and interact with the staff. 

"If you're walking around and you're not giving him attention -- in the sense that like, he knows you're right there and he knows you have a free hand to pet him -- he'll kind of rub up against your leg and start meowing," she said. "He's definitely a chatty little guy." 

For now, Scholand said, they're introducing Nimbus to the summit facility slowly: showing him the weather room, the living quarters and parts of the adjoining state park building. Eventually, he'll have the run of the main visitors' center rotunda and the summit outside. 

"All of our cats over the years have gotten used to ... if they want to go out, they'll show up at the tower door and want to go out with you for an observation," she said. 

They'll start to let Nimbus outside onto the mountain as he learns the doors and patterns of the weather station. As of early May, she said, it's a still a little too cold and windy at the summit to let the cat roam free.

Future visitors to the peak, when it reopens, may hope to catch a glimpse of Nimbus wandering the state park Sherman Adams building, scrambling over the alpine rocks or, like Marty, just taking in the view from on high.

This story has been updated to include comments from the observatory operations director and more details about Nimbus.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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