Ever wondered what is the collective term for a group of bookstore cats? We think it should be catalog. Incidentally, a clowder is the term for a group of ordinary cats and a kindle (yes, really) is a group of kittens. AbeBooks asked some of our booksellers to describe the cats that inhabit their bookshops and we now have a gallery of fine felines. Cats and literature have mixed well for a long, long time from T.S. Elliot's Practical Cats to Edward Lear's Pussy Cat and Dr Seuss' Cat in the Hat. Take a tour around these wonderful bookish cats, their owners and their bookstores. If you have a bookstore cat that should be featured in our 'catalog', send details and a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noodle and Freddie
Weiser Antiquarian Books
York Beach, ME
Brothers Noodle (left) and Freddie (right) came to Weiser Antiquarian Books four years ago after becoming homeless twice, once due to a divorce and then again due to a child's allergies. They so obviously belong together that a small animal rescue in Southern Maine kept them in several foster homes for nearly 6 months rather than split them up. It is hard to find a good home for two adult male cats - so we agreed to foster them - after our beloved book cat Morgan passed away suddenly. It was agreed that we would keep them until a suitable home was found - so long as they didn't damage the books! Four years later they are still with us and obviously have found their forever home amongst our books. They love visitors and do their best to help us catalogue and pack books.
Cat's Cradle Books
High Point, NC
Mauro, a laid-back gray and white fixture amongst the books, started out as a feral kitten living in nearby bushes. A passerby caught him and brought him to me to see if I wanted to adopt him. The rest, as they say, is history. The scrawny, fearful kitten grew into a sleek, friendly cat who quickly learned that the tame indoor life was preferable to the wild outdoors.
Here, Mauro, always curious, can be seen investigating the inventory. I have other bookstore cats, but Mauro, more than any of the rest, laid claim to the books as his own from the start.
The Kelmscott Bookshop, ABAA
The owner of the shop adopted Madeline from the SPCA not long after she purchased the shop in 2003. She immediately settled into her role as our mascot and head of security. Madeline keeps our shop running. She loves to sit on top of the front desk where she greets our customers as they enter the shop. Otherwise she is usually found on my lap. Madeline is the definition of "catitude" with eyes that show scorn but a purr that is inviting and a passion for rubs that might end in a scratch. Really though, she's quite easygoing and full of love to give.
Hemingway resides with us and over 16,000 books. He is always on hand in the office to oversee and advise on processing AbeBooks sales, taking pictures, and anything else that might demand his expertise. Many pictures have to be retaken, in fact, because Hemingway likes to suddenly insert himself into the middle of them, apparently believing that this would improve them greatly. Sometimes he’s right. He came to us a few years ago as a scrawny, not to say scruffy, stray, and refused to leave. Fearing that he would not be accepted by our old cat, we finally took him to the local shelter, which is across the lake and about ten miles away. Four days later he was at our door again. We have never figured out how he managed that, unless he rented a boat. But we knew when we were beaten, and gave in. He knew what he was doing, too, as it turns out. His last trip to the vet for a checkup had him weighing in at 20.2 pounds. Hardly scrawny. He is evidently very pleased with the situation, judging by the fact that he purrs almost nonstop. He and our old cat got along just fine, by the way.
The Spiral Bookcase
Little Amelia was found on Cotton St. near our shop. A group of lovely ladies were going to dinner and found her mewling nearby on a dark and stormy night. They inquired here if I might be interested in harboring her at the shop. It didn’t take much convincing. We noticed that she had an imprint of a collar around her neck, and her absolutely sweet disposition made it apparent she was not an alley cat. We believe she may have been dumped off, and after inquiring about lost cats who might fit her description, it appeared that this was truly the case. She may not have been lost per se, but she has certainly has been found. Cat kismet.
It didn’t take me long to name her. Amelia. Part Amelia Pond, part Amelia Bedelia. She is adorable, affectionate, and mouthy, and we can’t let her go. So, next time you're in the shop, if you spy a calico fluff ball, say hello and give her a little pet. (She’s partial to head butts too.)
Moby Dickens Bookshop
Here is a photo just taken of one of our bookshop cats named Mabel. The other one is Tony. Of course they are named after two of Taos’ famous historic characters Mabel Dodge Luhan and Tony Lujan. We got them in 2010 from Stray Hearts, our local animal shelter. Before that we had Ruby, our shop cat for 15 years. They always bring a smile to our customers (except when they are being ornery!) Mabel has her own now-hairy chair, while Tony can be found in his basket behind the Customer Service desk.
On October 14th, 2010, we were driving back from a book-buy when a black splotch on the road ahead caught our eye. As we got nearer, we noticed that it was a tiny black kitten trotting down the white line on the side of the highway, very focused on the task at hand. We drove on, but it didn′t take long for our conscience to pull at us. The kitten was much too small to survive on its own, to say nothing of the danger from the busy highway that it walked along. So, we did a donut, chased it down, and drove it to the store. A vet visit the next day revealed that the kitten was a roughly five-week-old female and that she had a bad case of intestinal parasites, so bad that there was a small concern that she might not pull through. She got her first shots and we took her back to the store to recover.
She was a sorry sight when she arrived - scraggly, skeletal and dull-coated. For the first two days, she slept. But after resting, she came back to life. She strutted around the store as if she owned it, completely unafraid of the shelves and the stacks of books that towered over her. And though she was so young, she could already use a litter-box, eat wet food and clean herself like an adult cat. Initially, we intended to adopt her out to a good home, but that resolution faded in less than 24 hours as she purred and sashayed her way into our hearts. We held an unofficial naming poll with our customers, and Babette it was.
At nine weeks old, Babette is a sleek, healthy, playful, outgoing kitten. She has the run of the store in the evening, and loves to dart beneath shelves and dash down the aisles. In the mornings and afternoons, she sleeps on the counter or in a chair (though she′s still so tiny that we keep her crated when there′s too much foot traffic). She now has a regular cast of honorary aunts and uncles who have gifted her with feather-balls and laser pointers. We can′t wait to watch her grow up, and look forward to having her around for many years to come.
The Book Man
Nietzsche is the very definition of a bookstore cat. Mellow and affectionate, he loves sleeping in sunbeams in the front window, greeting people at the front door and falling asleep smack dab in the middle of the front counter. He is as soft as silk in a lovely pale apricot color and has been gifted with a sizable fluffy tail that makes him particularly handsome. Nietzsche has a generous purr and has an inexplicable love affair with baby carriages (we′ve removed him from several over the years). He also has a knack for knowing who is ignoring him, and will follow those customers around the store, sometimes even going so far as to sit on the books that they′re browsing.
He was adopted from our local cat shelter in 2008 at the age of six after their whole staff recommended him for the very social position of bookstore cat. He seems to bring out the best in people, and has created some wonderful memories for our bookstore journal, like the time we spied upon a 6-foot-4 muscle-bound man with a shaved head wearing camouflaged pants gently petting him saying, "Who′s a nice kitty? Is that you? Are you a nice kitty?" in a soft voice. Or perhaps it was the little boy who had to leave his cat in Ontario when he moved here to Chilliwack, British Columbia, who gave Nietzche a terracotta pot of cat grass that he had planted, grown and brought in as present for him. He brings joy to so many people, including us, and will be perusing the aisles in search of a scratch behind the ears for many years to come.
The Iliad Bookshop
North Hollywood, CA
Zola, the one-eyed pirate kitty mascot of the Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood, CA, is one part tabby, one part tortoise-shell, and all charmer. Her literary provenance doesn′t end at her name and current job position. She was rescued from a neglectful animal hoarder by the Edgar-nominated writer Christa Faust, who brought her by for a visit…that became permanent when we fell in love with her.
Because she′d previously been kept in a wire-mesh hamster cage and shared untreated feline herpes infections with other cats, she lost one eye and most of her teeth; when she first moved in, her fur was patchy, she was underfed, and the poor baby had so little muscle tone she couldn′t stand without shaking. But her personality was winning from day one: She′s invariably playful, even-tempered, and loves to be petted. Once she′d recovered physically, we also discovered that she had an astoundingly beautiful coat, and she′s often mistaken for a Maine Coon. She′s been featured in the Los Angeles Times and has a coterie of devoted fans who bring her treats and toys.
She can often be found sleeping on a box of books in the sunlight, or napping next to a happy customer on one of the store′s large couches. Mornings are playtime, though, and she loves nothing quite so much as to race up and down the store′s wide aisles…a luxury she didn′t have from her last owner. Given her background, her sweet disposition never fails to amaze. She′s a wonder.
Kiki is the BookMarx Bookstore watch cat. She watches the world go by from the front window of the store (when not fast asleep). The regulars stop to say hi, usually with a tap, tap, tap on the window. When the spirit moves her, she opens one eye to see who might be disturbing her sleep again.
All day long it is tap, tap, tap on the window as the regulars walk by. When new visitors to town walk by and see the beautiful "stuffed" cat in the window, they remark, "Doesn′t it look real." If they are really curious they poke their head in to ask about Kiki. "Is that a real cat?" they say. With a wink of an eye, I tell them I wind her up every morning and put her in the window. When the front door is open everyone is concerned she will "escape". "Escape?" I say… Not likely, she knows where her food is; she won′t stray far from her daily repast.
As people start to walk through the store, she leaves the comfort of her prime lookout perch in the window to follow them around the store. Her persistence and demure nature always gets her the reward she seeks, a light stroke of her fur and scratch of her head. Once is never enough and even those who are less than cat enthusiasts cannot resist her pleasant and friendly manner.
At the end of the day when all the day′s work is done, Kiki gets her nightly meal and she then finds her favorite hidden corner of the store to have a night of peace and quiet until morning comes and her friends all stop by to tap, tap, tap on the window to say hi again.
"You can call me Cotton."
"If you guessed that I got this oxymoron of a name because of the white tip on my tail, you would have a knack for the obvious! but you would be wrong. It is tiring to explain. At my interview, my servants recognized that my small size, which made me exceptional among my siblings, was evidence of my prodigious intelligence. Though they were hard to train, they have served me well since I was a kitten."
"I run an organized, well stocked bookshop. I greet customers; smell their hands; inspect the books they bring. I look customers in the eye, listen politely and nod at their stories. I follow them around in hopes of helping them make intelligent book choices. I am the only staff member that customers insist on petting. It is undignified. If I hiss fiercely, it deters petting. I′m alert for dangers that threaten the bookstore, such as flies, spiders, mice and unpleasant cell phone rings. Sometimes I have to knock over stacks of books to get underlings to attend to their duties. I keep the employees in shape by challenging them to a morning game of tag before the store opens. I show them real prowess by jumping onto a counter nearly four feet tall. (They expect me to perform this feat for my desserts, even though I have certainly never seen them jump onto the roof for theirs)."
"From my pillow behind the computer, I monitor the uploads to AbeBooks.com (which provides money for Fancy Feast). "
"I have distinguished myself in the book world. Erin Hunter was at my store for a book signing. Her Warriors Series about feral cats are my favorite books. She gave me the honorary Warrior Cat Name, Bookstar."
"But, you can call me Cotton."
The Book Nook of Mexico
My name is William Fox and I own and run The Book Nook of Mexico (MO), offering over 49,000 books. The Book Nook is co-managed by Booker, a calico very much in charge of things. Booker has her own Facebook page (Booker Fox) in which she makes recommendations on books of interest that we have in stock. She also provides commentary on the daily goings on here. She has impeccable taste in books and greets each customer with an alternation of genuine warmth and blatant disdain. She is a two-year-old rescue cat who, through nurturing and tutoring, has risen above her circumstance to become an icon in our little community. Her new station is manifested in her fastidious grooming practices and her grasp of literature. In turn, she gives back by providing recommendations. Here is one of her reviews:
"Today′s recommendation is based solely on its title, which is among the most captivating titles I′ve ever encountered. I will mention that it is an International Prize Winner in the All-Nations Prize Novel Competition for 1937. Let me share an excerpt from the dust jacket: ′It is heartening that from the thousands of manuscripts submitted to the All-Nations Prize Novel Competition the winning novel should be one which is not only entertaining and important from a literary viewpoint, but one which subtly reveals all nations, without for a moment indulging in propaganda.. And now ( . . . drum-roll . . . ) for the title: The Street of the Fishing Cat by Jolan Foldes. . . I know, right? A fishing cat? In Paris? I mean . . . color me there! You′ll find this in our FICTION F section."
Shakespeare and Rembrandt
Never Without A Book
From the moment we decided to open a used book store, we were in perfect agreement on one issue. The bookstore needed feline floorwalkers. We picked up these two handsome young gentlekitties at the local shelter, and on opening day they were ready to roll along with us. The fuzzy ginger is called Shakespeare, and he loves people, especially children. Enter the store at your own risk with a bag, a box, a stroller or a carriage because within seconds Shakespeare will have his head, if not his whole body, buried in said item. He received the name Shakespeare because his name at the shelter was Shuffle, and we knew right away he had more play in him. Over time he even developed a Fan Club of young girls from the nearby dance school.
The handsome orange and white is Rembrandt. This was the name he had at the shelter and we hoped he would learn his name. To this day, he doesn′t respond to his name - but actually he doesn′t respond to anything else either. He′s headstrong, afraid of nothing, and quite full of his own beauty which he proudly displays in the store window. He also has a fan club but is a little more discerning as to who he allows to pay homage to him. If you′re an early morning customer, you may find the boys having a chase from back to front and back again. They love exploring the store and experimenting with different places to sleep and afternoon naps are often disturbed by customers wanting to pet them. Both cats feel it is only right that they be carried around by the customers while they are browsing. We keep a roll of sticky paper at the front desk especially for the customers to use as they leave the store. All cats lend great personality to a book store - ours are no exception.