” A computer and a cat are somewhat alike — they both purr, and like to be stroked, and spend a lot of the day motionless. They also have secrets they don’t necessarily share.” – John Updike
The word ‘CAT‘ combined with ‘BOOKSTORE‘ googles up about 2 million results. Why? Because, that’s why. Before the world discovered sanitation, the family ‘rodentia’ had free run through most of it, much to the delight of hungry little tigers everywhere. Stuart Little aside, for the most part mice don’t look at books and see great literature, generally they see lunch. Hence cats were among the first bookshop employees, and much more valuable to the trade than an endless supply of clerks who think that working in a bookstore is romantic but don’t want to get their knees dirty.
With the advent of indelicate poisons and barbarous traps, cats are no longer must have equipment, but that doesn’t stop booksellers from keeping them on staff if only to remind them of grand traditions. Vestigial ornaments, like deckle edges and copy presses. Sellers such as Meetinghouse Books, Forrest Proper keep their cats front and center, Powells goes so far as to put FUP on a t-shirt. IOBA‘s first step was to logoize the cat/bookseller relationship. as expect ABE goes over the top by haviing cats who can apparently read recommending books.
Writers & cartoonists have also encouraged their own view of the Cat/Book Dichotomy:
The New Yorker Book of Cat Cartoons
Cleveland Amory – Cat Who Came For Christmas
May Sarton – Fur Person
Lillian Jackson Braun – Siamese Koko & Yum Yum : The Cat Who…series,
Garrison Allen – Mycroft : Baseball Cat, Dinosaur Cat
Carole Nelson Douglas – Midnight Louie: Cat in a Golden Garland, Cat on a Hyacinth Hunt
Shirley Rousseau Murphy – Cat in the Dark, Cat to the Dogs
Marian Babson – Murder at the Cat Show
Robertson Davies – Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.
Miguel de Cervantes – In the night all cats are gray.
Ernest Hemingway – One cat just leads to another.
P. G. Wodehouse – The real objection to the great majority of cats is their insufferable air of superiority.
Aldous Huxley – If you want to be a psychological novelist and write about human beings, the best thing you can do is keep a pair of cats.