The unique arrangement is a win-win for both the business and the kittens as it attracts customers to the store while helping the felines find their forever homes.
At first glance, Otis & Clementine's Books & Coffee is one of those everyday cozy bookstore/coffee shops with oodles of rustic charm. However, Ellen Helmke's bookstore is more than every booklover's classic idea of literary heaven. Located just outside of Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada, this establishment is run by some of the cutest faces ever. Stepping into the store, you're greeted by the sight of tiny balls of fur all over the place; chilling on the armchairs, napping among books, wrestling on the carpet, and staring at you with big inquisitive eyes. Who? Kittens. Tiny, furry, adorable little felines who're waiting for their forever homes.
According to CBC.ca, Helmke first turned her bookstore into a foster home for kittens in the spring of 2019 and has been so pleasantly surprised by the positive customer responses to the feline book guardians that she now plans to do it indefinitely. The pointy-eared pawsters spend their days greeting visitors at the door, basking in the sunlight by the windows, and exploring cardboard boxes stacked up near the entrance. Having full reign of the place, the playful kittens also have no qualms about turning the bookstore into their personal playground, pouncing on each other and being their adorable selves.
Speaking of how she became a cat foster mom, Helmke said, "I thought it would be a fun thing to do and I thought people would enjoy it, but it's turned out to be so popular. They jump on piles of books, they hang out on the albums, they sit on people's laps, curl up on their shoulders. They run the place." Helmke's kittens aren't just misfortunate feline babies she finds out in the cold. They are provided by the South Paw Conservation Nova Scotia, a local rescue group, which temporarily puts the kittens in the bookstore owner's care until they can find them a permanent home.
This unique arrangement has been a win-win for both the business and the kittens, Helmke revealed. The establishment's furry residents attract customers to the store and being around humans at a young age, the kittens become socialized which in turn helps them find their forever homes easily. "It almost feels like it's a turning point," said Helmke, who has been in business for over 8 years. "The used book business is a pretty tough business on a good day. So I'm thrilled that people like it, and people are coming to the store," she
According to Narcity, all kittens fostered by Helmke are adopted fairly quickly as customers can't resist taking home the furry friends they make at the store. SPCA takes care of the adoption process which costs applicants $255 to cover medical expenses for the pet. Those looking to become cat parents will also need to provide references to the agency. Shawna Morrissey, a regular customer at Otis & Clementine's Books & Coffee, is grateful to the store for bringing a blue-eyed kitten named Rio into her life. "We weren't really anticipating that we were going to find a little teenie baby kitten at this time of year," she said.
"We have a one-year-old kitten at home, so we're ready for a second one. We had two before. They were 16 and 17 and we lost them. So it's time to get our new little kitten family going," Morrissey added. The playful kittens also attract a lot of young readers to the store with kids often stopping by after school or during their lunch breaks. Helmke has litter boxes and food set up in her backroom for the kittens and feeds them 3 times a day. She also takes them to the SPCA intermittently for vet checkups to make sure they are well and healthy. "I absolutely love it," the happy foster mom said. "Who doesn't love kittens?"