Channel 8 Road Trip: Visit the garden cats at the Philbrook Museum

Channel 8 Road Trip: Visit the garden cats at the Philbrook Museum (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- There’s nothing quite like it, from the 23-acre European Garden to the 72 room house.

Legendary oilman Waite Phillips and his wife, Genevieve, wanted to bring the influence of their European travels to Tulsa. In 1928, they built a place inspired by the Italian villas they came across. For a while it was their home, then it became their gift to Tulsa.

Since 1939, it’s been the Philbrook Museum.

“There are very few places in the country that are a combination of historic home, art museum and gardens,” said Jeff Martin, with the Philbrook.

The Philbrook’s expansive art collection comes from around the world and changes often. But here on the beautiful grounds there’s a permanent, homegrown attraction that never disappoints. They’re known as the Philbrook cats.

“They’ve become our museum mascots,” said Martin. “People love art, but the most popular thing on some days are these cats.”

There’s Acer, the outgoing friendly cat. His sister is Perilla, who’s the real boss here. Then, there’s Cleome, or Cleo for short. She’s the youngest and most competitive.

The three garden cats call the $15 million mansion home.

“They’re treated like royalty,” said Martin. “They get regular visits to the vet, they have a little house out there. It’s heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. They live very posh lives.”

Their posh lives have been well-documented on social media. Scroll through the Facebook page of the Philbrook and you’ll see hundreds of likes and shares featuring the three cats.

“Put a camera on a cat that’s sleeping, you would think that that would be the most boring thing in the world,” said Martin. “(But) it gets amazing responses, people just want to watch a cat sleep.”

Martin said about 10 years ago, the museum adopted Perilla and Acer. It was right around the time social media took off and the two cats developed a following. A couple of years ago, Cleo showed up at their door.

“We’ve raised her as if she were our own. She’s our youngest cat of the three,” said Martin.

Gardeners also look after the cats during the day. The cats have become part of Philbrook lore.

The Philbrook has hosted a cat video festival and has T-shirts in the gift shop so people can proudly display their favorite feline.

“My favorite is probably Acer because he has the most personality,” said Martin.

Quite a place to call home, but let’s remember these are cats. So obviously, the Philbrook didn’t choose the cats, the cats chose the Philbrook.

This Channel 8 Road Trip is sponsored by Dave's Claremore RV.

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