I love the term bibliocat.
I like the thought of a cat that is defined by the books around them. When I tried to find an actual definition for the term, though, I came up blank. The internet, for all it’s adorable cat pictures, memes, and videos, doesn’t seem to have a definition available for “bibiocat.” So I made one up!
I definitely did not come up with the term itself. I’ve seen bibliocat used in multiple places (most notably in Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who… mysteries). Literature is full of references to cats and cat-characters: the Cheshire Cat and Dinah in Alice in Wonderland, The Cat in the Hat, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, not to mention Church in Stephen King’s Pet Sematery or Pluto in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” (if you want to go scary), among innumerable others.
There is no shortage of ties between literature and real-life cats, either. Mark Twain once said, “If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” In Florida, polydactyl (six-toed) cats still rule the roost at Ernest Hemmingway’s house, and the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, keeps two black cats on staff (presumably both for rodent control and atmosphere). One of the most famous bibliocats was Dewey Readmore Books, the orange library cat from Spencer, Iowa.
Carpe Librum has had its own bibliocat supervisor for the duration of the business. Nikabrik was adopted from the Humane Society in Gallup, New Mexico, and named after a Narnian dwarf. She loved piles of books, which was good, because my house is always flooded with them! When we started putting Carpe Librum on social media, we found out that next to books, phone cameras were her favorite thing. For the last five years, Nikki has posed reliably for adorable cat pictures to share with our friends and followers and make people say, “Aww.” For the past two years, our bibliocat has been one of my best-selling bookmarks! Recently, she added her own touches to one of my paintings, as well.
When I decided I needed to come up with a bibliocat definition, I started by looking up all the definitions connected to the term that I could find; definitions for “cat” and “bibliophile” in particular. I even took my best shot at a Latin “scientific” name for a bibliocat: Felis catus (the actual Latin for “house cat”) librorum (“with books”—more or less). I thoroughly enjoyed the project, which included typing up the definition on my 1930s Remington Noiseless typewriter. Since I do a little bit of photo editing and a little bit of sketching, I had a digital-artist friend who stepped in to help me turn a real picture of Nikabrik into our bibliocat design.
Far be it from me to tell you what kind of a furball you should curl up with when you read, but for all those who are animal lovers, I hope you find a reading companion that brings you as much joy, comfort, and cuddles as our bibliocat brought us over the years.
Be awesome. Read books.
(And pet cats.)