September 15, 1921: Drunk cat solves mystery of missing booze at Duluth Federal Building

On this day in Duluth in 1920, officials at Duluth’s Post Office & Federal Building announced that they had discovered who was responsible for damaged liquor bottles held as evidence—a cat named Cleopatra. The liquor was being held as evidence for upcoming cases of violating the Volstead Act, better known as Prohibition. Harris Bennet, the local customs officer, had noted that several bottle of “100-proof, bottled-n-bond whiskey…had been broken and their contents removed.” Cleopatra was well-known at the government facility and was considered the building’s mascot. According to the Duluth News Tribune, Cleo’s nefarious activities were discovered when she “staggered into Mr. Harris’s office and sat down…. [but] what she actually did was sprawl on her back, her feet spasmodically thrusting into the air, her glazed eyes rolling, [and all] the while she me-o-wed for all the world like a human in the ecstasies of delirium-tremblings.” Apparently Cleo had discovered the bottles on a shelf and knocked them off, breaking them open and spilling their contents on the concrete floor; she then lapped up the whiskey. The bottles were moved to a safer location. The story included no mention of any punishment for Cleo, but it did point out that postmaster Thomas Considine “disclaims ownership of the cat, asserting she was left behind by Colonel W. F. Henry, former postmaster.”

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