Cat’s Meow at Home: From Mill Mountain Star to a Collecting Obsession

Annette Berg remembers very clearly how her collection of Cat’s Meow began in the 1990’s.

“My companion and I were visiting a friend of his who lived in Roanoke, sitting in their sun room and tired from a long day of sightseeing, I leaned my head back and saw a room surrounded by Cat’s Meows on the tops of the windows and doors. I was fascinated when our host told me that they were all buildings in Roanoke.”


It was on that visit to Roanoke that Annette visited one of our retailers, Leggett’s (no longer in business) where she bought her first Cat’s Meow: The Mill Mountain Star, a customized design currently available at The Apple Barn. (This 88 ft. neon star was built in 1949 to serve as a Christmas decoration overlooking Roanoke. It still stands today as an iconic symbol of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And it's one of the most photographed attractions in the area.)


Annette's Mill Mountain Star Cat's Meow displayed with the rest of her Virginia collection
The Mill Mountain Star piece, that started Annette's collection, shown with other Virginia Cat's Meows


Before leaving Virginia, Annette visited The Apple Barn in Troutville where she met the owner, Rachel Nichols, and bought a few more Cat’s Meows. Rachel shared her Cat's Meow Retailer book, listing all the stores in the U.S. and Annette was instantly hooked. (See our online Store Locator)


Once at home, Annette found Cat’s Meow Village online and our community message board (replaced by our Facebook page). There she met a fellow collector, Martha and they have become good friends; often traveling together and visiting retailer shops in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. They even traveled to our Sweet 16 Convention and other gatherings in later years.


Two walls of Annette's living room filled with precious Cat's Meow collection
Two walls of Annette's living room are filled with Cat's Meow replicas of Williamsburg, VA, Philadelphia, PA, Albany, NY, and Boston, MA


As Annette continued to travel to places such as Williamsburg and all over the Buckeye State,

Annette knew she had to display her collection in a way that would allow her to look at them all the time. "I love American history and I think that is one of the things that has drawn me to Cats Meows." Annette groups her Cat’s Meows in themes around her house. For instance, her American Revolution Cat’s Meows are displayed throughout her living room, while in the family room, Annette pays homage to the places she’s lived and loved to visit. Her kitchen displays are home to places in and around Wayne County, Ohio; the home to Cat’s Meow Village as well! "And then there is my lighthouse collection which is on 3 walls of my powder room."


  Ohio Cat's Meows on display in the kitchen of Annette Vanderlip
Annette's kitchen display shows off her many Ohio Cat's Meows


Annette added personalized Cat's Meow dog houses to her home Cat's Meow displays
Annette added her family dogs to her Cat's Meow display with our PURRsonalize Me! dog houses


Annette confesses that people are fascinated by her Cat’s Meow collection and often have questions such as, “how do you dust them all?”

Annette also offers up this piece of advice for the new collector: “Try to choose pieces by theme or places you’ve visited. Remember that you will want to display them so have in mind where and how you’ll do that.”


Quite the upcycler, Annette shared how she turned a vintage cupboard drawer into a unique display shelf for her Cat’s Meows.

You can see in the image below how Annette has divided the drawer with Balsa Wood and lined it with scrapbook paper to display some of our Washington DC collection. (If you want to follow Annette's example, look for vintage drawers that are at least 12" to 14" wide to give plenty of space for larger Cat's Meows.)


Annette upcycled a vintage cupboard drawer to display her Washington D.C. Cat's Meow collection in
Annette's vintage drawer-turned-Cat's Meow display holds her Washington D.C Collection


As for her collection now?

Annette says that many pieces are not on display as she has run out of room, “Collecting became an obsession for me. I have run out of room and places to put shelves.” But that doesn't keep her from decorating a special tree at Christmas with all her Cat's Meow ornaments!


Cat's Meow decorated Christmas tree during the holidays in Annette's home.
Cat's Meow ornaments from many years of collecting adorn Annette's Christmas tree


Annette’s love and fondness of her collection is apparent even after all these years, “I still love to walk around and look at them, remembering when I bought them, cherishing the memories, especially those spent in Wooster.”


Do you have a story like Annette’s?

We’d love to hear about it! - Contact us HERE -   You could be featured in our Cat’s Meows At Home stories, just like Annette.


**Many of Annette's collection are pieces that we've custom created for retail locations across the country. These pieces currently are (or have been) available through those stores, museums, non-profits, churches, schools, etc. You can search for a retailer online and then contact them directly. (We're sorry to report that currently we don't offer a listing of all the custom designs that might be available - but if you contact us with a location, we can provide you with a list of designs and where they are available.)




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