We have a small problem at our bookstore. For those of you new to this blog, my husband and I own, operate, and live above a bookstore called Tales of the Lonesome Pine housing 38,000 books. That’s what my upcoming book is about–all the silly things we did six years ago to get this place going, and all the crazy, fun, bittersweet things happening since.
One of the things that is NOT in the book is that we foster animals at our store, offering them temporary shelter until they can find a loving forever family. Mostly we rescue cats, but we have taken in the occasional litter of puppies. With some 7,000 domestic animals euthanized in the States every DAY, we do our part to keep as many as we can out of the shelter.
Very noble, right? Except our two staff cats do not agree. Val-Kyttie, 16, and Beulah, 6, understand nothing about their brothers and sisters in the shelter needing our help. Or maybe, being cats, they understand but just don’t care. Whatever the reason, they have taken to spraying to announce their displeasure at the adorable fluffy kittens gamboling across our shop floor–to the coos and awws of customers who used to come and pet THEM.
We talked to our cats about the perils of jealousy, and explained they themselves had once been abandoned strays, so why should they begrudge poor orphan kitties a home? They remained unmoved. We threw out some fifty books before we realized this wasn’t going to stop.
Spraying is not something you want to happen in a shop where books are stacked and shelved floor to ceiling. Jack and I now know about six different ways to save a book from cat pee. (Instructional video coming soon to fine K-Marts everywhere….)
While we pride ourselves on being able to rescue just about any book–battered paperback, dust jacket, even leather embossed covers–our strategy really lies in prevention. Both staff cats now wear pretty purple collars that release calming pheromones. We buy special magic elixir ($25 a bottle, thank you) that thoroughly eradicates the smell and discourages cats from returning to mark the same spot.
And on the advice of the Internet (yes, I know) that cats dislike pine and citrus scents, I invested in air freshener stock and loaded up on those little Renuzit cone things, smelling of oranges. I by far prefer the lavender ones, but anything was worth it to keep the cats from harming any of our inventory.
We set the cones strategically about the bookstore, and had several customers comment on how pleasant the place smelled. (I love the smell of old books: dust and ideas mingled together. Now ours had orange blossom wafting in as well.)
It was all going swimmingly until Heather, our ever-vigilant, miracle-working cleaning lady spotted one of the cats, er, spotting in the bathroom. Val-Kyttie took out a whole stack of Danielle Steels with one thrust.
What can we say; her aim was true.
Then she minced one delicate step to the left and sprayed the orange air freshener, knocking it over like a bowling pin, before turning to saunter past Heather out of the bathroom.
Heather swears that Val-Kyttie winked.
We’ve instigated a few changes in the ol’ home bookstore. We no longer keep books on the floor; they are above the “strike zone.” The cats still wear their pretty purple collars, and they seem to be adjusting to our status as a cat rescue station. Heather keeps an eye out for occasional lapses, but these are fewer and farther between as the weeks pass. Our bookstore now smells pleasantly of dust, ideas, old books, cleaning fluid–and lavender.