Adorable Portraits Explore The Lives Of Big-City Shop Cats

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Tamar Arslanian knows that shop cats aren’t merely cute, they can play a vital role in a city like New York that can feel a bit cold and brutal at times.

It all started when she started posting photos of two shop cats in her neighborhood — Jack, who lives at a wine shop and Kitty, who resides at a pilates studio — on social media, and was overwhelmed by the exuberance and interest of her fellow New Yorkers. Many of them had favorite local store cats of their own.

” It’s then I began to realize how permeating store cats were in the city, and the important role they played in adding a touch of warmth- a sense of community even- in a place that can sometimes feel overwhelming and impersonal ,” she told HuffPost in an email.

That realization inspired Arslanian to write ” Shop Cats of New York ,” a volume that explores the lesser-known lives of the city’s most idolized felines. She teamed up with photographer Andrew Marttila, who shot gorgeous portraits of the book’s furry stars.

Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins Matilda of the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan. Having a resident “Algonquin cat” is a longstanding tradition at the hotel. A former shelter cat, Matilda now lives a life of luxury .

Arslanian had some important criteria for which cats she included.

” First and foremost, I wanted to to feel confident the cats were well cared for and beloved ,” she said.

As it turns out, she was agreeably surprised by just how great the cats’ lives seemed to be.

” My biggest’ ah ha’ was realizing the level of stimulation and attention these cats received in comparison to most home cats, mine included ,” she told.” I find my cats for about an hour before work and a few hours in the evenings during the course of its week, but I can’t say I’m actively playing with them for very long. It stimulated me realize the level of enrichment these cats were receiving on a daily basis. In some styles they could be viewed as having fuller lives than most cats living in more traditional homes .”

That’s one reason why Arslanian would like to see more animal shelters and rescue groups be open to adopting out cats to business , not just traditional residences.

” Businesses could be vetted as are most adopters, and assessed to ensure the business and cat are a good fit for each other ,” she said , noting that of course not all cats have personalities that would be suited to that environment.

See a selection of Marttila’s photos from the book below.


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

Known as “King Jeffie, ” he helps keeps mice away at Kings County Distillery in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

Exercise enthusiast at Sal Anthony Movement Salon in Union Square, Manhattan.


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

A major draw for visitors to Chenille Cleaners in Midtown, Manhattan.


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

A “customer therapist” at Tent and Trails in Manhattan’s Financial District, she athletics a sparkly “diamond” collar.


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

Mascot and official greeter of the Algonquin Hotel in Times Square, Manhattan. You can follow her on Instagram here .


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

One of two cat helpers who preside over the merchandise at Moo Shoes in the Lower East Side, Manhattan.


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

Valentino, of Carroll Gardens Realty Company in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Valentino got his name after being rescued from the snowy streets as a tiny kitten on Valentine’s Day.


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

Nicknamed “Tiny the Usurper, ” he lives at Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn and has his own Twitter account .


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

Music aficionado at Bleecker Street Records in the West Village, Manhattan. Sadly, Keetah has died, and the store closed, since this photo was taken.


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

Charmer at MPH, a messenger/ courier service in Chelsea, Manhattan.


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

This resident of Dream Fishing Tackle in Greenpoint, Brooklyn constructed the encompas of the book.


Andrew Marttila/ HarperCollins

Rescued as a kitten found at a building site, Spooky now rules On The Move bike shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he operates to greet customers at the door.

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