The Cutest Bookstore Pets in America
Experience two of life’s greatest joys: browsing books and meeting furry creatures
There are very few things in the world that we at Electric Lit love more than bookstores, but one of those things is pets. We are absolutely obsessed with our furry friends. It only stands to reason that to our minds, there is no greater place in the world than a bookstore with a pet. Bookstore pets are one of life’s greatest gifts, and there is no better way to browse books than to do it while a dog weaves between your legs or a cat snores softly on a bookstack that you dare not rifle through, lest you disturb the sweet angel’s slumber. We put feelers out to our followers on social media to discover bookstores that feature special cameos by their literary critters. Below is a list of bookstores across the U.S.—many recommended by our readers!—where you can experience two of life’s greatest joys: browsing books and snuggling pets.
Wild Rumpus; Minneapolis, Minnesota
Wild Rumpus takes the notion of bookstore pets to a whole new level, by featuring what is basically a full-fledged petting zoo, with cats, fish, birds, rats (the intentional kind), and chinchillas. Primarily a children’s bookstore with a small selection of adult titles as well, the concept for the store comes from the book The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer, which removes the boundary between the inside and the outside, leading to the store’s aesthetic vision: starting as a relatively traditional bookstore in the front, and designed to look more and more like the outdoors as you move toward the back of the store, where you’ll find their many pets. Their website features absurdly cute bios of several of the animals, and they even have a YouTube channel where you can watch feeds of what the pets are up to when the humans aren’t around to keep them in check (while it appears they haven’t posted new videos in quite a while, the catalogue is well worth watching for your fill of cute bookstore animal antics).
Community Bookstore; Brooklyn, New York
Located in Park Slope, Community Bookstore is Brooklyn’s oldest bookstore and a fan favorite amongst locals. While the well-known and beloved cat, Tiny, sadly no longer resides at the store, fear not! There is still a little creature who spends its days in the store’s backyard: the less fluffy but just as adorable John Turturtle. Personally, I love an unconventional bookstore pet, and while I’m sad that Tiny no longer graces the stacks, I’m quite pleased to see this handsome turtle getting some love in the literary world.
Parnassus Books; Nashville, Tennessee
Inside Parnassus Books, co-owned by Ann Patchett, there are not one, not two, but six dogs gracing the store with their presence. Each dog has its own job description, ranging from the essential Assistant Co-Owner (granted to Sparkman “Sparky” VanDevender) to the slightly more specialized but no less important “Connoisseur of Cardboard,” Barnabus Lynch. While not all six dogs are working the sales floor every day (the hardworking pups need days off too!), you’ll typically find at least two or three of these industrious, four-legged friends about the store. They also have their own online magazine, Musing, where you’ll find staff picks, author interviews, a blog written by Ann Patchett herself, and the extra special “Shop Dog Diaries,” where you can hear a little bit about the lives of the shop dogs (they’re shockingly good writers—who would’ve thought?). And as an added bonus for all you Ann Patchett fans, you can buy signed copies of all of Patchett’s books in store.
Iliad Bookshop; Los Angeles, California
The Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood has long housed pets, and is currently home to two fluffy felines, Apollo and Zeus (aptly named for a bookstore called Iliad). A used bookstore with primarily literature and art titles, they have a wide selection of books to browse as well as couches where you can sit and read. If you’re lucky, you may just find yourself with a cat hanging out with you while you flip through your selections—according to the Iliad’s website, Apollo and Zeus are “very sociable,” which bodes well for getting some good cuddles in while you’re there.
MacIntosh Books + Paper; Sanibel, Florida
At MacIntosh Books + Paper, you’ll find a large selection of books alongside stationary and cards, and, most importantly, the adorable Mr. Brady, a handsome, big-eyed tuxedo cat. If you find yourself on the island of Sanibel, you’ll want to stop by to pick up some books to read on the beach and to give Brady some pets while he lounges on one of his cat beds throughout the store or stretches out on a rug.
Cupboard Maker Books; Enola, Pennslyvania
Cupboard Maker Books is a great place for people seeking not only a good book to bring home, but a feline friend of your own! Here you’ll find not only the three current cats-in-residence—Annika, Mouse, and Zak—but adoptable cats as well. As firm believers in supporting both indie bookstores and animal rescues, a hybrid between the two is basically a dream come true. Stop by to help used books and adorable cats find their forever home.
Bart’s Books; Ojai, California
Bart’s is a charming part-indoor, part-outdoor bookstore with an aesthetic that is—to my eye and apparently the eyes of many bookstagrammers—pretty hard to beat. And, of course, the adorable Simone, a sweet gray cat who can be found roaming the space, only increases their Instagram aesthetic by a factor of a million (I don’t make the rules). With its vast number of outdoor shelves featuring a wide selection of books—from rare and antiques down to 35 cent specials that can be purchased on the honor system by dropping your payment into a coin slot on the door—and numerous spots to sit and read, Bart’s is the kind of place you could spend a day just hanging out at.
Twice Sold Tales; Seattle, Washington
Twice Sold Tales in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle features no shortage of books or cats. With six cats—Lily, Buster, Hardy, Screamer, James and Eleanor—who take up residence in the store, Twice Sold Tales is to cat lovers what Parnassus is to dog lovers. With so many books and furry friends to choose from, you’re guaranteed to have ample opportunity for quality cat time while you browse the used and rare books. It’s the perfect spot for our variety-loving bookish friends.
Recycle Bookstore; San Jose, California
Recycle Bookstore in San Jose is—true to their name—a used bookstore that is also a great spot for selling or trading your books. And, of course, it is also a great spot for hanging out with cats. Emma and Ender are two extremely fluffy bookstore helpers who want to buy your books (or at least, sit on them). And because they are truly dedicated to the bookstore cat lifestyle, their secondary location in Campbell, California, is home to their own cat, Max, as well. Stop by to buy, trade, sell, and pet!
Horton’s Books & Gifts; Carrollton, GA
At Georgia’s oldest bookstore, you’ll find three cats who are eager to help you shop: Dante, Poe, and Savannah (according to their Instagram, there is also “one store ghost” which I’m not sure counts as a pet, per se, but it is definitely the most interesting bookstore resident I’ve encountered in my research). This store has a very distinct style with books and antiques housed in pharmacy cases, and you’ll find used books in the basement “bookcellar.” Eclectic, unique, and delightful, Horton’s is a neat spot to check out for the aesthetics alone, made even more of a must-see by merit of its ample kitty selection.
Pillow-Cat Books; New York, NY
Pillow-Cat Books not only has a bookstore cat (the eponymous Pillow Cat), but is also the only bookstore on this list that specifically sells only animal-themed books. It is an animal bookstore with a bookstore animal. Animal bookstore-ception, if you will. The adorable Pillow can be found helping out around the store, and inside you can browse books of all genres and ages: they may be new, used, or even antiques, but one thing is for certain: all of them will feature an animal of some kind. Stop by for all your animal needs—from cuddles with the real Pillow to literary adventures with the animals between the pages.
Split Rock Books; Cold Spring, NY
At Split Rock Books, a family-owned bookstore run by a husband and wife team, you’ll find a sweet little ginger cat named Georgie lounging around (and on) the store’s displays. For New Yorkers looking for an escape from the city, swinging by Cold Spring for some nature and a visit to this adorable indie is highly recommended. What could be better for a weekend refresh than some time out of the city, at a bookstore owned by former New York City booksellers, buying some books and hanging out with their sweet cat?