The Cat Person

}New employees often spend the first few months on the job trying not to get eaten alive. Tammy Quist has to worry about that during her off hours, too.

Quist, an account supervisor at Fallon in Minneapolis, is founder and director of The Society for Wild Cat Education—a 10-acre compound nearby that currently houses 10 exotic cats and five domesticated cats and dogs. Just a few months ago, though, Quist ran the entire operation—servals, lynxes, cougars and all—in Atlanta, where she managed national consumer programs for Coca-Cola. “It was the worst thing,” she says of the move. “You could never convince me to do it again.”

But it saved the sanctuary. “I couldn’t run a nonprofit in Georgia by myself,” says the Minnesota native. “I needed my network of family and friends to help. … Minnesotans think differently about animals.”

So far the move has panned out. Every week, she comes to work with fresh scratches, and her colleagues joke about who will check the lion’s stomach if she’s late. But she has recruited seven staffers from the United account to help build enclosures for the animals, and a weekend of volunteering is planned.

In return, Quist reassures the agency’s dog people that she won’t run amok. “Everyone expects that I’ll have a lion or tiger in all of my ads,” she says. “That’s not going to happen.” Michele limina/afp/newscomphoto discchuck gonzales