Tosca, SF’s most ‘fancy lookin’ shop cat, goes Twitter viral

In the photo, a dapper tuxedo cat is perched on a stool, with bottles of vermouth and some lip balm laid out tidily in the background.  The cat in question: Tosca, the 8-year-old shop cat at Nabila’s Naturals in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood.

“Oh my God, she’s becoming a celebrity, this one,” said Ramiz Yousef, who owns and operates the shop with his wife, Elena Rios. 

There is a bevy of beloved local shop cats, and most San Francisco residents declare their loyalty to a singular feline friend. But this level of stardom feels a bit different — all thanks to her adorable little bow tie.

She’s become something of an internet celebrity ever since this image of her, shared Sunday, went viral on Twitter, amassing more than 120,000 likes in less than two days.

Tosca is about 8 or 9 years old and was first adopted in 2016, Rios said. She recounted the first time she and Yousef met Tosca — a charming, feisty thing even sitting inside her little cage at the animal shelter. (If you’re wondering, her name is from the Puccini libretto. Yousef and Rios opted not to change her name, feeling like it already suited her so well.)

Tosca lying down on a Modelo box.

Tosca lying down on a Modelo box.

Courtesy of Elena Rios

“We reached Tosca … and we tried to move to the next one, the next cage,” Rios told SFGATE. “She really got mad, and she did, like, [hissing sound] at Ramiz, and as soon as she did that, my husband knew she was the one. That was a very special moment right there.” 

And in the more than five years since she’s made Nabila’s her home, the ever-sociable Tosca has charmed many shoppers — and even some nonshoppers who come by just to snap a picture and spend some time with her.

“She’s a very sociable girl,” Rios said. “She loves greeting the customers and being around people and sometimes hang out behind the counter and looking at the action — what’s going on, who’s getting what.”

Tosca, Rios joked, will even just stand at the door, holding court for anyone who enters her natural food dominion.

“Sometimes, she stands at the door, and she stretches her little paws, and everybody, you know, she stops the traffic in front of the door,” Rios said.



Courtesy of Elena Rios

As for the bow ties? Rios says they’re changed out seasonally, depending on holidays and, sometimes, Tosca’s mood. When she gets bored of her collar, Rios said, she gets fussy — moodily pacing around until it’s changed. (She even has a gown that she wears on special occasions, Rios said.)

Both Rios and Yousef are overjoyed at their “little baby of the house” getting so much love online. They only caught wind of it late Sunday night, when Yousef spotted the picture of Tosca making the rounds on Twitter.

“We’re very happy that she gets to offer her love to so many people and that she really makes an impact and [gets to make] the day a little sweeter to somebody every day.”


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