Shelves of pre-loved paperbacks and hardcovers draw thrift shoppers in to a chain of local bookstores, but the cats keep them coming back.
“They’re a part of our corporate family,” Wee Book Inn owner Carey Luxford said yesterday. “People come here exclusively just to see them.”
The six resident long-haired cats at four Edmonton Wee Book Inn locations have made the stores home by way of an Olde English tradition, born out of necessity for rodent control.
“They were traditionally kept around as mousers. Mice would shred the paper to build nests. Cats protect the books, and ours have caught mice over the years, so it’s worked out,” he said.
The chain’s feline mascots — each named after a Montreal Canadiens player — have scaled the shelves and curled up on stacks of books since the first Wee Book location opened its doors in 1971.
Nearly 40 years and a few generations later, Yvan, Patty, Miso, Bunny, Pocket and Boom Boom carry on the custom while living leisurely lives, charming bookworms and casual shoppers alike.
“They really blend in, though, so sometimes, people don’t even notice them,” Luxford said. “But people love them and often take their photos.”
Though they live close to home, a few have performed disappearing acts over the years, he added.
In the early 2000s, twins Pocket and Rocket were snatched from the Alberta Avenue location. After scouring the area, a Wee Book staffer found the pair had been taken to the infamous Cromdale Hotel lounge.
“She found them and brought them back — we were lucky,” Luxford said.
The four-legged spokespeople have become familiar faces in their neighbourhoods, and should one wander off, neighbours will often bring them home, Luxford said.
“Yes, the cats come back.”