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Bookstore cats
February 4, 2012 9:42 PM   Subscribe

Bookstore Cats from Different Parts of the World

These five Mental Floss posts contain 58 bookstore cats - the collective term for which is "catalog".

Not enough? Here are 8 more compared by attitude towards customers, favorite place to sleep, and estimated hours per day not spent sleeping.

Here Dee Xtrovert provided her customary depth of wisdom on the origin of the bookstore cat.
posted by Trurl (78 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not enough? There is never enough!

And this is a fantastic post!
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:49 PM on February 4, 2012


Yay!

I love shop kitties.

I will return to places that have them just to visit the cat.

One of the Newspapers (now defunct) I used to visit had a cat (now defunct) named "Extra." She had 6 toes. Extra! Extra! Cat Has Six Toes! Read all about it!
posted by cjorgensen at 9:49 PM on February 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


That Hong Kong cat looks like you just tried to sell it a box of soiled self help books.
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 PM on February 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Shop kitties and shop dogs always get notice from me. My favorite bookstore here in town doesn't have a shop cat, but they make up for it by allowing pets in as long as they're leashed.
posted by azpenguin at 10:00 PM on February 4, 2012


Deli near me has a white and grey cat I have named Bouncer ( or Bravecat) because it likes to stand just outside the door, on a busy manhattan street, sittin upright and giving everyone who comes in a quick once over/nod.
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 PM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


And the place next door has a nearly one eared gigantic orange cat that, if ou pet it, will unleash the loudest, deepest purring you've ever felt. He practically shakes.
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well I do like all of them, but that one from Bangalore with the different colored eyes stands out as cute enough to make me make involuntary noises.
posted by aubilenon at 10:09 PM on February 4, 2012


I have only one question - how does Isbn pronounce his name? (And can I pet him?)
posted by The Shiny Thing at 10:14 PM on February 4, 2012


If I ever win the lottery I will open a bookstore to cram full of books and I shall have a book cat for every genre of books.

And then die by subsequent crushing by books and suffocation by cat hair, but - BOOK CATS. (=`ω´=)
posted by zennish at 10:25 PM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Awww I met Ember and Amy (at the now closed Comic Relief in Berkeley) and they were very dignified kitties... not too dignified to graciously accept petting though.

I've also seen resident cats at a whole suite of cellar doors in the Rutherglen wine region in Australia - nothing like a wine tasting in the company of nice cats!
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 10:31 PM on February 4, 2012


I still miss Orlando.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:31 PM on February 4, 2012


God, I love Dewey.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:46 PM on February 4, 2012


My favorite bookstore cat actually lived in a record store. Any business with a cat inside is a business worth going into.
posted by sleepy pete at 11:11 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish I was a cat that lived in a bookstore,
posted by defenestration at 11:14 PM on February 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


I just wish I had a bookstore near me.
posted by Ardiril at 11:38 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would pronounce Isbn as Iz-bin.

I have never seen a bookstore cat. :(
posted by b33j at 11:40 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I met Fup, who used to live in Powell's Books in Portland Oregon! Fup napped on a tray next to the cash register, and had her own business card!
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:54 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has anyone posted the Guardian's Tokyo Cat Cafe video yet? No? Well, here you go then.
posted by hot soup girl at 11:59 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Awww I met Ember and Amy (at the now closed Comic Relief in Berkeley) and they were very dignified kitties... not too dignified to graciously accept petting though.

I was there the day after Rory Root, the owner, rescued the mom cat (Ash) and the baby (Ember). The staff, including my daughter, called them Momma and Baby because it took Rory a few months to name them. Ash and Ember were given a home after CR closed by the folks who run Dark Carnival and took over most of the stock.

The Bay Area seems to be very blessed with so many bookstores and bookstore cats. I worked at The Other Change of Hobbit for several years and am still a faithful customer. The Other Change has been home to a lot of cats over the years and being a science fiction and fantasy store, most of the names have been on theme - the most immediate predecessors being Shagrat and Shelob.
posted by ladyriffraff at 12:00 AM on February 5, 2012


Permanent Records in Chicago also had an excellent cat.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:04 AM on February 5, 2012


. Any business with a cat inside is a business worth going into.

True. I will spend hours and hours and dollars and dollars in your store. Fact.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:08 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


cats and books and cats and books...
posted by louche mustachio at 12:09 AM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder whether Myopic Books in chicago ever got another cat.
posted by wayland at 12:24 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hodge shall not be shot.
posted by trip and a half at 12:27 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have petted that kitty from Spoonbill and Sugartown many times. Goddammit, I miss Williamsburg. Even with all the stroller-pushing condo-dwellers.
posted by Decani at 12:49 AM on February 5, 2012


Nicholas Hoare books in Ottawa, Ontario has a cat. I had no idea it was a thing; I thought it was just something this particular shop did.
posted by Hoopo at 1:01 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I grew up in Yakima, Washington and a favorited bookstore had at least one cat, but I suspect at least two. It was called Cheshire Books. I'd be amazed if they're still opened. They had the most wonderful smell.

I didn't get to know the owner all that well as I wasn't introduced to it until some Gamer types introduced me. The owner did have some D&D books, etc.

I imagine the particular type of gamer (perpetually unemployed and seasonally homeless) did not encourage much interest from the owner. I still enjoyed the place, none-the-less.
posted by Momorama at 1:08 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


petted the same cat, Decani
posted by defenestration at 1:12 AM on February 5, 2012


aw shit that's awesome. Also, I miss Dee. Boo.
posted by smoke at 1:12 AM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I now want a breakdown of store-animal pairings. Judging from Bravo's reality shows, fabric stores have dogs. And I've encountered several bookstore cats myself. The Voodoo Museum in NOLA has snakes.

What else is out there?!
posted by vegartanipla at 1:14 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Fup napped on a tray next to the cash register, and had her own business card!"

There's a chain of used bookstores here that has a cat in each shop (and yes, they're on the logo and website). Anyway, the flagship store had a particularly imperious cat that liked to nap in the display case under the cash register. For hours. On top of the used CDs and DVDs. Nothing could move him, and if you wanted a CD or DVD you were out of luck. People would drop multiple books by the register with a "thunk" and he didn't even move. Then once in awhile he'd get up, stretch, and visit each customer in the store, receiving a pat from each somewhat like the Pope lets people kiss his ring. That was an awesome cat.

One of his colleagues in the downtown location always picks the busiest part of the store to nap in. It's a thin hallway that connects the front and back rooms, and he (or she, I'm not sure) is usually stretched out there completely dead to the world while people go by, but if you stop to pet him he doesn't seem to mind.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:18 AM on February 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have only one question - how does Isbn pronounce his name?

It's pronounced 978-0-836-75067-3.
posted by verstegan at 1:18 AM on February 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


The nice thing about bookstores with no cats is that people who are highly allergic to cats can go inside them and buy things. Also, people who are married to people who are highly allergic can go in them, too, without stranding the allergic mate outside the door tapping her foot and looking at her watch and scowling. There are a hell of a lot of allergic people in this old world.

Even if you're not allergic, I've been in more than one bookstore with a stinky litterbox problem, or even a stinky no-litterbox, I'll just piss on the carpet problem. I think it's like smoking; people who do it don't realize how terribly they reek.

Plus, hair on everything.
posted by Fnarf at 1:25 AM on February 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yay! They mentioned Bartleby from Adams Ave Books in San Diego. He came out with a Christmas card this year.

I came across an animal supply store (think horses) that had a resident cat, which isn't that unusual except it was hanging out in the shadows at the back of the shelf, and I wondered why the bags of dog food were meowing at me.
posted by book 'em dano at 1:28 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


people who are highly allergic to cats

I wondered about that.
posted by b33j at 2:52 AM on February 5, 2012


> Patrons suggested over 200 names for the cat
(from Mental Floss link 4)
and they went with Ginger?
posted by paduasoy at 3:42 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Left Bank Books in St Louis has Spike, who only makes me sneeze a bit.
posted by scruss at 4:27 AM on February 5, 2012


But what of the bookstore dog?
posted by Fizz at 5:07 AM on February 5, 2012


Hey, Penny from Acres of Books! Which is closed, alas. As I recall, she spent most of her time sleeping on the pricing table near the rear entrance.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:12 AM on February 5, 2012


There is a bookshop not too far from my house which claims to be the Southern Hemisphere's largest second hand bookshop. Obviously they have a shop cat. Of course just looked it up and it seems like they've closed down......
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:52 AM on February 5, 2012


Watson's Bazaar, in Stratford Ontario, has a pair of shop kitties. They like to hang out on the counter and sleep. Very mellow kitties.
posted by sandraregina at 5:54 AM on February 5, 2012


Ophelia Paige at Yesterday's Muse in Webster, NY. When I visited the store, their black cat, India, decided that she really needed to be on my lap, which kind of cut down on my book-browsing time...
posted by thomas j wise at 6:08 AM on February 5, 2012


If the Nicholas Hoare here had a cat, I would brave the huge pile of asshole salesmen to shop there. It is the least pleasant bookstore I have ever had the misery of going into. Why are there no local bookstores with cats? Sure, I have my own cats, but a bookstore would have new cats.
posted by jeather at 6:21 AM on February 5, 2012


Awesome Books in Pittsburgh has three shop cats: Mojo, Molly, and Cupcake Slim.
posted by octothorpe at 6:24 AM on February 5, 2012


Emily Grace of the Edisto Bookstore. I just met her on Friday, and she's very talkative.
posted by crataegus at 6:40 AM on February 5, 2012


My cat was just diagnosed with Stage 4 renal failure. We looked at these pictures together. They made me very sad, but I tried not to let on.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 6:42 AM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the dose of cat.
posted by Goofyy at 6:51 AM on February 5, 2012


There goes David Bowie, reinventing himself again.
posted by Kattullus at 7:04 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shakespeare & Company in the West Village has a cat whose name escapes me. One day however the cat was hanging out near the register, when a customer walking a dog came in. The feline immediately started hissing like a rattlesnake which caused the dog to started snarling and growling, which continued until the dog owner left. It's kind of nice that in the heart of one of the world's most urbanized places, you can still see shit go all Discovery Channel on you.
posted by jonmc at 7:15 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


You could file them under “things that are nice to curl up with” - INDEED.

I used to work at a little vintage store in our neighbourhood where the store owner's pug spent the day with us. He was very cat-like; napped most of the day and snored delightfully; and we had rambunctious games of fetch with his various toys and he loved to be chased around the store - just not when people were around because it was terribly undignified. He was one of the best parts of the job.

Part of the deal with having a store pet is learning how to come up with polite responses to all kinds of questions, ranging from the usual name and explanation of it if needed; what he ate; photo requests; the tired old joke "How much for the dog?"; and to make with the firm requests to stop unwanted behaviour. People (and I mean random people, not people who were customers, ever) would come in just to visit or pet him, walking straight past me and ignoring greetings and not considering whether he wanted to be petted in the middle of a nap or not. A cat's better able to indicate his displeasure - Hubble would just look disgruntled that I wasn't doing a better job as his first line of defense. Nobody wants to be at the receiving end of a pug's displeasure - they have such withering glances. It's hard not to get crabby about people who are insensitive in this way. Because of this, I always remember to greet the human in the store too, and to consider whether the store's pet is in the mood for receiving guests at the moment. Most people know when not to bug pets, some just don't get it. I loved the reviews that were linked to that evaluated the cats' approach to the people in the store!

And, aw, sorry about your cat, Houyhnhnm.
posted by peagood at 7:17 AM on February 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you visit Santorini, stop at the Atlantis Books in Oia to see Trunk cat.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:37 AM on February 5, 2012


I like the photobomber.
posted by desjardins at 7:39 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


But what of the bookstore dog?
posted by Fizz


Adventures Underground has a bookstore dog. Often seen on their commercial saying that they sponsor the local PBS station.
posted by 445supermag at 7:40 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


But what of the bookstore dog?

As much as I love dogs, the meditative quiet of the cat makes it uniquely well suited to the appreciation of books.
posted by Trurl at 7:53 AM on February 5, 2012


Aww. Kitties!

I didn't realize fabric stores tended to have dogs. (None of the ones I've been in had any kind of pet visible)

Now I want to see pictures of store doggies, too.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:54 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't realize fabric stores tended to have dogs.

It may just be a Bravo thing.

Mood - which, thanks to Project Runway, is now the most famous fabric store in the world - has the adorably named Swatch.

And Ginger often accompanies Real Housewife of New York Jill Zarin to Zarin Fabrics - but is not a "store dog" in the true sense.
posted by Trurl at 8:03 AM on February 5, 2012


Watson's Bazaar, in Stratford Ontario, has a pair of shop kitties. They like to hang out on the counter and sleep. Very mellow kitties.
posted by sandraregina at 5:54 AM on February 5


What people reading this need to know is that Watson's isn't a bookstore. It's a store that sells china, porcelain, crystal, glass, and all sorts of other very delicate, and breakable items. The shelves (and floors) in that store are just packed full. None of that modern, minimalist store aesthetic in there. Nope. Get tons of stuff, and jam it in there as tightly as possible. Don't let the shelving show through.

And then let huge, gigantic cats wander through the store. Allow them to sleep, sit, and stretch-out wherever their hearts desire. Curled up around some dishes? Good. Parked in behind some crystal? Fine. Admittedly there is usually at least one sleeping beside the register, but honestly you never know where to expect them.

Newcomers to the store are always amazed that such large creatures don't leave a trail of broken dishes and shattered glasses in their wake.

Oh, and they're very mellow cats. They (pretty much) don't care who pets them or when. At least most of them don't. The last time I was in there, the owner said one of the cats was causing problems so it got adopted out to one of the employees (or a friend of an employee), cutting the cat population from three to two.
posted by sardonyx at 8:07 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meet Ralph, resident at the Mudsock Books & Curiosity Shoppe in Fishers, IN.
posted by pjern at 8:14 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cats. Books. Heaven.
posted by New England Cultist at 8:16 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Books'n'cats'n'books'n'cats'n'books'n'cats'n'books'n'cats
posted by Anything at 8:19 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I've seen those cats at that bookstore in the Mission District of San Francisco. The cats would loll about in the front display window as the sunlight came through, constantly licking each other.
posted by jonp72 at 8:30 AM on February 5, 2012


I adopted a bookstore cat after my cat died of cancer and her owner died of a heart attack. I miss my bookstore cat. She died recently, but at least she had a longer life.
posted by bleary at 8:40 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


My neighborhood doesn't have any bookstores (well, except the "adult" kind). There is a bar up the street from me with a resident cat named Whiskey though. Dude is awesome....totally saved me during a terrible date I was on by coming over to my table, whooshing back and forth behind my head on the banquette, and demanding pets. Thanks, man.
posted by medeine at 9:16 AM on February 5, 2012


This cat lives atop the shelves at Haslam's Book Store in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 9:18 AM on February 5, 2012


Zola! Zola is my friend.

My favorite bookstore cat story, however, is from Adams Avenue Books in San Diego. The pale orange monster in this picture is an avid chess player, by which I mean he enjoys sleeping on the chessboard upstairs and then thrashing around and knocking the pieces off the table.

"Good kitty!" I said, the first time I saw him do this. "You beat chess!"
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:21 AM on February 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Aww, Silas (from A Novel Idea in Lincoln, NE) is no longer with us, but the store adopted a pair of handsome brothers who now patrol the store and sleep in the shop window.
posted by PussKillian at 9:29 AM on February 5, 2012


I wonder what happened to Gotham Book Mart's cat, Pynchon. In one of the store's last two locations, s/he used to ride the elevator with customers occasionally and that was charming.
posted by nobody at 9:53 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


My favorite store kitty encounter was in the hardware store in Yachats, OR. When I reached down to scratch his ears he launched himself onto my shoulders and activated his loudest purr. He stayed there as I wandered around the store picking out what I needed. The shop owner was a bit surprised, saying he'd never seen him do that before. It just reaffirmed my self image as a cat whisperer.
posted by calamari kid at 10:37 AM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


In 1960s London, a [now famous] lion called Christian used to live in an antiques store called Sophisticat on the King's Road. The shop moved a mile or so down the road to near Wandsworth Bridge. I think it is still going. The lion got tired of working conditions in retail and moved to Africa some time back.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:40 AM on February 5, 2012


Kindle kittens?
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 11:13 AM on February 5, 2012


Aww, Silas (from A Novel Idea in Lincoln, NE) is no longer with us

I was pretty sure this was the case. I've been avoiding A Novel Idea since roughly the middle of last decade when I was last in a serious relationship with someone who worked there. (I think she's long since moved on from A Novel Idea, but I retain a sense that my karma has pretty well lost me the bookstore.)

Lincoln had another well known bookstore cat, whose name I am totally forgetting. Lived at Bluestem Books down in the Haymarket. I can't remember now if I ever actually met this cat, or if he had passed on and was just memorialized by newspaper clippings on the wall by the time I shopped there regularly...
posted by brennen at 11:23 AM on February 5, 2012


Bluestem has a dog as their customer relations manager now - Don Diego. I've only met him once, but he was very charming. They may have had a cat as well, but I can't recall because I was too busy getting puppy cuddles.

There's also Leo, at Yellowed Pages. And the three who live at the comic book store in the Haymarket, and the two who live at the video game store on O Street.
posted by PussKillian at 1:31 PM on February 5, 2012


This all has reminded me of Booker the cat who lived at the library by my parents' house. Someone had made a stained glass portrait of him which hung by the checkout counter. While the library was being remodeled, he went off to live at someone's house and I never saw him again.

Oh no! I just Googled him and found out he died in 2001. I'm sad now :( Here's his pic.

Library cats in WA state
posted by illenion at 2:49 PM on February 5, 2012


Lewis lives at Downtown Home & Garden in Ann Arbor. He's lived at the store for more than 12 years and was briefly cat-napped last summer but happily was brought back. He's one of the mellowest cats I know, utterly unfazed by living in a very busy place with lots of visitors coming just to see him. Obviously not a bookstore but...
posted by leslies at 3:08 PM on February 5, 2012


Isbn at the Campbell Recycled Books has retired from store duties and his spot has been taken by a cute fluffy orange guy named Bob Newhart.

I was always fond of Gertrude, a massive gray cat who was the shop cat/area rug at the sister Recycled Bookstore in San Jose.
posted by jamaro at 6:13 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Prairie Archives, in Springfield, IL, has a resident black Lab named Ruby. I try to stop there whenever I am in downtown Springfield.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:22 PM on February 5, 2012


Wayland - Myopic didn't get another cat (Leonard is living in a happy retirement with a regular customer). OTOH, the shop is leashed dog friendly (PUPPIES!).
posted by bibliogrrl at 5:26 AM on February 6, 2012


True. I will spend hours and hours and dollars and dollars in your store. Fact."

QFT.
posted by arcticseal at 5:55 AM on February 6, 2012


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