I am not a cat lover. But for some reason I found myself thinking this morning about bookstores and cats and why they go together. Of course, you will not see a cat in any of the bookstore chains. They probably worry about liability issues. Maybe the group of people frequenting the indie bookstores where you tend to find these cats are more respectful of the cats–keeping their distance and treating them as simply another book browser.
Why is it that cats and bookstores go together? Maybe the question is why cats and indie bookstore operators tend to go together? Maybe independent is the common thread. Indie booksellers have always struck me as very much their “own” persons, similar to the personality of cats who seem to allow you into their lives very much on their terms, if at all.
Why do cats and books go together? Is it that we wish we had the mythical nine lives of cats to read all the books we would like? Or is it that cats seem to represent the all-knowing creatures we are tempted to think we can become through our books?
Perhaps it is much simpler. Somehow the presence of a cat wandering the shelves or perched atop a stack of books makes these stores seem a homier, more welcome place. That’s the impression we had at one of our favorite book haunts of the past, Twice-Loved Books, an indie used book store that occupied a former homes in Youngstown, Ohio. The store is no longer. But the memories of wandering the rooms with the store cat remain. The cat just added to the whole feel of the store as a place for an unhurried browse.
I hope the bookstore cat indeed has nine lives, because it will mean the stores it inhabits will as well. I’d love to hear about your favorite bookstore cat!