Yes, a cheerful greeting by a clerk is nice but I don’t think anything endears me more to a store than seeing a shop cat. There’s an instant sense of home in a store with a four-legged greeter.
Through the years, I’ve run into many shop cats around the world (although my favorite was actually a shop parrot in Sicily. The shop owner would ask “como va gato”–how does the cat go–and the parrot would meow!) Nowhere in the world, though, have we seen more shop cats than in New York City.
Now it’s fitting that these iconic cats have been honored in their own book, a beautiful hardcover volume titled Shop Cats of New York (Amazon link).
Written by Tamar Arslanian (of I Have Cat) and photographed by Andrew Marttila, this stunning book looks at 40 felines that inhabit the city’s bodegas and bookstores and much more. Meet:
- the Algonquin Hotel
- Ric and Rac, who live, appropriately enough, in a trim store in the Garment District
- Patti Gucci (a play on Patagonia), a former feral who now greets shoppers at a camping goods store
- Jeffie, who rules the oldest operating whiskey distillery in New York City
- and many more
I love that the introduction to the book addresses a question that I’ve wondered in seeing shop cats–are they lonely? Are they well cared for and loved? Tamar notes, “I must admit that before getting to know Jack [a wine store cat] and the other cats in this book, I felt bad for felines who lived out their days in businesses.” After seeking out some of New York City’s most social cats, though, Tamar explains, “However, as I spent time with these cats (and their humans), I noticed they were extremely well taken care of–spoiled even–and adored, not only by the employees but also by the clientele.” While she points out that some stores have had a difficult time adopting cats due to the fact that some bodega cats are used primarily as mousers, “We hope this book sheds light on the positive aspects of shop cats, encouraging rescue groups and shelters to open their minds to less traditional homes.”
If you’re looking for a holiday gift for your favorite cat lover or traveler, pounce on Shop Cats of New York!
We received a review copy of Shop Cats of New York; all opinions and statements are entirely our own.