Guest post by Tamar Arslanian
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Living in the same New York City neighborhood for many years, two cats – in addition to my own – have become part of the fabric of my daily life. Jack Daniels, my local wine store cat, and Kitty, who lives in a pilates studio. Had it not been for them, I’m not sure my first book, Shop Cats of New York would exists!
I look forward to visiting and loving on Jack and Kitty (more like annoying the often temperamental Jack, given I’m a bit exuberant with my affection!), bringing them small gifts, or just dropping by for a quick pet. My sister, too, has always enjoyed her neighborhood cats, excitedly texting me photos when she happily discovered a new one.
When I started doing research for my book, I found people were more than happy to tell me about their local shop cats. I quickly learned that these felines an integral part of both the shops and the neighborhoods in which they live. They create sense of community at which they are the center.
These cats are not merely “mousers,” cats brought in for the sole purpose of rodent control. On the contrary, some refused to catch a mouse if it ran right in front of them! These cats are part of a family, just not the traditional kind we are accustomed to. They are loved and well cared for. Jack, for example, goes to the vet regularly, is on a strict diet and even has a chiropractor!
The more shop cats I met, the more I was taken by their individual stories. According to a regular at the pilates studio who happens to be a clairvoyant, Kitty used to be a human who entertained crowds in a German beer hall. One black cat living in an occult shop often walks around at night somehow meowing while clutching a wand in her mouth – casting spells perhaps? A rather famous hotel cat receives correspondence from around the world and has a personal assistant.
Many of the cats who have made a home in local businesses were either found on the streets or given to business owners by friends. Not many were adopted through rescue groups, as they are often reluctant to give cats to businesses for fear they will not be treated well.
I’ll admit before I started working on this book, I felt bad for shop cats who were left all alone in the evenings. But I came to realize that it’s not so different than when I leave my cats all day when I’m at work, often not getting home until I’ve had dinner out with friends. One store manager remarked that she only saw her cats at home for a few hours a day, while in contrast, the cats in her vegan shoe store (yes, we explored the irony of this in the book given cats are obligate carnivores!) are loved and in a stimulating environment for 7-9 hours each day.
Beyond the stories and stunning photography (thanks to Andrew Marttila @iamthegreatwent,) I hope Shop Cats of New York sheds light on alternative kind of home for social cats in need of a loving place to live, and introduces people – both residents of the city and beyond – to a new dimension of New York City life of which they may have been unaware.
Coming this Friday: My review of Shop Cats of New York
Shop Cats of New York is available from Amazon and everywhere books are sold.
Tamar Arslanian is the author of the blog IHaveCat.com – “Single in the City with Cat(s),” and has served as vice president of account management at numerous high-profile New York City advertising agencies. She also consults pet brands on marketing and social media, writes for numerous pet outlets, and shares her home with her two rescue cats Kip and Haddie.
*FTC Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Associate links. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.