Sunday , 28 February 2021

Meet Tamar Arslanian Author of Shop Cats of New York

We have a special guest at, Tamar Arslanian, the author of the lovely book Shop Cats of New York.  Tamar is the well-known writer of the popular blog ‘I Have Cat.’

You don’t have to be a “New Yorker” to simply fall in love with this book! What’s so wonderful is that it shows how cats can be welcomed into so many different environments and to enhance them. Customers love the cats, get to know them. If you are a pet parent or a cat lover, then you certainly know that cats and kittens all have their own very distinct purrsonalities! You will certainly see that in this book!

Shop Cats of New York is a very unique look at special places in New York City that you might not see at first glance. The photographs of the cats truly capture their friendly purrsonality and just how much more lovely they make any environment. And what is great to see is that “shop cats” are not only for bookstores!

PurrfectCatNames: Please share a bit about yourself, Tamar Arslanian!

Tamar Arslanian: I’ve worked much of my career as an Account Manager in NYC advertising agencies working on accounts like DirecTV, Fisher Price, and Chase Credit Cards. Not having grown up with animals (save a goldfish and a hamster), my love of cats did not blossom until my 30s when I started dating a man with two cats. I write about my introduction to cats in my blog Until last Summer I had three rescue cats but sadly lost my sweet grey tuxedo to cancer  (a mascot of sorts for my blog) last Summer. I currently share my home with two tabby cats. Kip, the first cat I ever adopted who is currently 14 years old, and Haddie (a failed foster) who is 8 years old. Shop Cats of New York, published by HarperCollins is the first book I’ve ever written.

PurrfectCatNames: What inspired you to write Shop Cats of NY? readers – take a look at Tamar’s I Have Cat blog, where she explains in a post ‘I Owe My First Book To A Shower, Gone Girl & Grumpy Cat’s Birthday – it is such a funny story! 

Tamar Arslanian: I had a literary agent approach me after finding my blog which was very exciting because I know it’s not easy to find an agent – let alone have one find you! She liked “my voice” and wanted to work together on a project. After a year I still didn’t have an idea she thought could sell commercially and figured I’d blown my opportunity to write a book.

One day in the shower the idea just came to me. What about all the shop cats that live in the wide array of businesses in NYC?! At the time there were two shop cats within a few blocks of my apartment I enjoyed visiting and who had a rather large local following (they both made it into the book!). I knew of other cats from friends and family living in the city. While dogs are more visible on the streets of NYC, Shop cats are a fabric of New York City life and they hadn’t received the attention they deserved (save bodega cats – cats who live in delis/small grocery stores).

PurrfectCatNames: Shop Cats of NY has many stories of shop cats. Do you have a favorite – or a couple of them?

Tamar Arslanian: It’s so hard to pick favorites! I love so many for different reasons. I think Kitty has an interesting story. She’s an older petite kitty who lives in my local Pilates studio and one of the regulars is a clairvoyant who had a rather interesting session with Kitty. The way she found a home is also rather interesting – your readers will have to buy the book to get the scoop!

I also love Sammy who lives in a message center with a bunch of large rather hulking men who are always gently petting him. He’s a bit bow-legged and has a rather unusual coloring.

PurrfectCatNames: How did you find shop cats, other than the ones you already were aware of? Did friends tell you about them? Or did you discover them in another way?

Tamar Arslanian: I did a lot of internet research and friends and blog followers helped too!

PurrfectCatNames: What was the most surprising shop to have a shop cat? Why did they have a cat in the shop?

Tamar Arslanian: The real estate office was rather unexpected I’d say. Valentino was found as a very little kitten on Valentine’s Day. He certainly hit the jack pot. The entire office celebrates his birthday with cake and coffee (for the humans not for Valentino!). Neighborhood children are always writing letters to him and drawing or painting his likeness. I find it very sweet that the owners of the office post the letters and artwork in the window next to the apartment listings!

PurrfectCatNames: The classic reason to have a cat in a store/workplace is to keep rodents away. Is this something that the shop cats you interviewed actually did? Or did they have other main duties to focus on?

Tamar Arslanian: “Snoopervising” seems to be the number one priority when not napping or eating! So not that different than our own house cats! None of the business owners I spoke with bragged about the hunting skills of their resident felines, though a few mentioned they weren’t very good at it and would watch the offending mice scamper by!

PurrfectCatNames: Did stores find that customers would come in – or choose their store over a competitor’s – because they had a shop cat?

Tamar Arslanian: I didn’t ask any of the customers at the shops we featured, but I know from my own experience and those of my friends who appreciate cats that we will absolutely chose a shop with a well-treated and loved cat over one without (even if it means going out of our way a bit or paying more for the same service or product).

PurrfectCatNames: What was challenging about writing Shop Cats of New York ?

Tamar Arslanian: Crafting the most succinct stories possible while keeping them interesting and writing in my voice. That and narrowing down the photos – there were so many great ones of each cat!

PurrfectCatNames:  How long did it take to complete the book  – from start to finish?

Tamar Arslanian: I would say from inception to getting on-stands it was close to 3 years. That includes creating the proposal with sample chapters, pitching it to publishing houses, getting a contract, going over proofs, having it printing etc.

PurrfectCatNames: The photographs of the cats are stunning in this book. Was there a “photo shoot” of the cats done at each store, and if so, how was it done and by what photographer?

Tamar Arslanian: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I think it’s important to note that we did our very best to find felines that were beloved by the business owners, staff and local residents.

I also mention in the introduction that I was a bit trepidatious at the thought of these cats spending their nights all alone. But the more I thought about it I realized my cats are alone when I’m sleeping too. And several shopkeepers mentioned that the cats in their stores receive much more attention and stimuli than their own house cats. When you think about it, how much quality time do you spend with your cat on a given weekday? I’m sure these kitties who are so well entertained for 8-12 hours in a given day (they all have places to escape for naps of course!), are probably excited for a bit of peace and quiet at night!

PurrfectCatNames: Do you have any suggestions or tips on how a shop could welcome a “shop cat?”

Tamar Arslanian: I’d love to see more shops became alternative homes for cats in need of a warm, loving place to live. At the moment most rescue groups will not adopt out to shops. I hope they begin to assess cases on an individual basis just as they would if an individual were going to adopt a cat for their personal residence. I’ve been excited to read recently about shops around the country taking in foster cats so they receive exposure to find a home. In this way they’re seen by a segment of the population who may not go to a shelter. And cats who don’t do well in cages can be seen in a more natural environment, giving them a chance to shine and show off their personalities.

Thank you, Tamar Arslanian for visiting PurrfectCatNames!

Learn more about Shop Cats of New York at:


Barnes & Noble


Or a local bookstore near you! 

One comment

  1. Great article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.