What is the earliest recorded bookstore cat?
February 16, 2010 6:31 PM   Subscribe

What is the earliest recorded bookstore cat?
posted by Joe Beese to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Jan's Antiques on Racine in Chicago..
posted by marimeko at 6:44 PM on February 16, 2010

Best answer: Would you accept cats in libraries? Someone at Wesleyan's library system has done a bit of research
Library cats have been around for centuries, and currently greet patrons in almost 150 libraries across the country. Worldwide, 697 cats have been recorded as official library cats. Of the 573 on record in the US, 383 have passed away after serving their institutions well, 32 are permanent cats-in-residence, 22 have been immortalized as statues, five are virtual eCats, four are stuffed mascots, and one haunts a reference room as a ghost. All can be reached by email.
More details here. If it's bookstores you're after, here's one from 1888 which seems sort of ... recent. I'll poke around some.
posted by jessamyn at 6:47 PM on February 16, 2010 [11 favorites]

Best answer: My father had a bookshop and the clerks used to keep cats there. Why? Because the basic building was a few hundred years old, built with archaic techniques and, like most buildings in the area, if left without deterrants, mice would enter the shop . . . which is not good for books.

Monks who worked on manuscripts often kept cats (the same is true of clerics in Islam who dealt with documents before books were common) and if you think back to the Egyptians, who treated cats like royalty . . . well I think it's pretty obvious that the bookstore cat phenomenon has been around even prior to bookstores as such.

So there might be something out there that works as the very first detailed account of an actual bookstore which provides the very first specifics about an actual cat, but my suspicion is that the two have been largely inseparable from the start.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:47 PM on February 16, 2010 [19 favorites]

I wasn't clear about the Egyptians bit, but I was thinking of methods that the Egyptians used to protect papyri, and you can guess the rest . . .
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:48 PM on February 16, 2010

Here's an eight century Irish monk/cat poem. Not quite a bookstore, but there weren't bookstores then.
posted by jessamyn at 7:17 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

we had a newspaper cat. he lived in the pasteup room and was born on the premises. he had free access to the press room but was never pressed. since technically someone came in every single day, he only passed the nights alone, and the production manager used to leave one of the lightboxes on for him.

I used to write up my late-deadline school board stories with him on my lap. man, he sure made that chore go by easier. he was also great on a lonely weekend night in the morgue, doing research. I guess he was born around 2000, though he seemed like the grand old man of the building. dude had his own press ID and everything.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:37 PM on February 16, 2010 [9 favorites]

toodleydoodley, I keep mentioning that we need a cat at work (I'm at a newspaper) and no one ever seems to go along with it. That's too cool that you guys had one. (Which paper?)
posted by azpenguin at 9:24 PM on February 16, 2010

the East Jesustan Times, of course ;-)
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:37 AM on February 17, 2010

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