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Working Felines: Shop & Store Cats 3
Shops in Poland
Antykwariat Naukowy is a bookshop in Szewska Street (Shoemakers' Street) in Wroclaw, which is in Lower Silesia and is south-west Poland's largest city. The shop specialises in second-hand scientific books its name means literally 'Scientific Antiques'. The proprietor, Mrs Malgorzata Chabinska, acquired a female cat a few years ago, which had six kittens; five were adopted, but the sixth one became the resident bookshop cat in 2005 while still a youngster. He has become well known in the city and was named Dante because on his first day there he chose a copy of Dante's Divine Comedy to use as a pillow! He seems to love books, preferring older, hard-cover ones to more modern material, and particularly likes history books, especially ones about the ancient world.
Dante spends most of his time in the shop, although he likes the occasional stroll outside and was seen to be assisting the workers during some recent renovation work in the street. A favourite sleeping place is in the shop’s front window. where among the books, maps and pictures a framed notice has been placed saying (in Polish, of course): 'Yes, I am alive. Please, don't knock on the window. I am sleeping now!'
Dante has become very popular, to the extent of being mentioned in various city guides, as well as in press articles and on the internet, where he has a blog with many more lovely images, and also a busy Facebook Page. He even receives e-mails from other countries with good wishes and photos tourists have taken of him. People sometimes bring him toys and even food, such as fish or chicken, but he prefers cat food. Many shop customers are more interested in seeing the cat than in the books!
There's an excellent YouTube clip of Dante (you don't need to know Polish).
Lexykon is a bookshop on Nowy Swiat Street in the Polish capital city, Warsaw. There used to be a resident cat called Kicia, 15 years old, but she went missing one day and was never found. So in 2004 Docent took over; he was a kitten at the time and his name was chosen from entries in a competition among customers. It refers to a kind of science degree, in between 'Doctor' and 'Professor'. Docent is very popular among shop customers and passers-by, and tourists stop to take pictures of him.
In August 2010 he went missing from the shop actually for the second time. The first was when he was still a kitten, and apparently he went to live with one of the neighbours, but returned after a few days. His second disappearance was for longer; appeals were made in the press and on TV and a search was organised by his many friends. It was 10 days before he was found in a basement not far from the shop, dirty and very hungry but otherwise unharmed. He was soon back indulging in his favourite pastime of lounging around on the books!
Another Warsaw bookshop with a cat was Bagatelli, on Bagatela Street, and the resident feline here was Rudolf. The shop owner had seen a poster for the book Shadow of the Wind, by Carlosa Ruiz Zarfona, showing a striking image of a cat sitting on some books. As a result, he thought a resident cat would make for a good atmosphere in the shop. For some time he sought the 'right' cat, and eventually in 2005 found Rudolf, who fitted in perfectly. He's described as proud and confident, but open and friendly to customers more of a president than a bookseller, perhaps! The owner said people were constantly asking questions such as, 'Where did the cat come from?' 'What's his name?' 'Does he live in the bookstore?' and so on.
More recently (late 2013) the Bagatelli shop had closed, but in January 2014 Rudolf was due to resume his shop-cat duties in new premises as soon as alterations were complete. The new shop is called 'Na pieterku' ('On the First Floor').
Meanwhile, on the Baltic coast . . .
We're very grateful to our Polish friend Bartlomiej for researching and sending us details
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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.
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