Amelia (The Spiral Bookcase)

By Luke Wysocki & Leksey Maltzman
Photograph provided by Sophia Lee

It was a dark and stormy night when, after weeks of spotting her scurry about on Cotton Street with no owner, no collar, and no place to call home, Ann Tetreault met her furry friend. Ann, the owner of Manayunk’s cozy neighborhood bookstore, The Spiral Bookcase, agreed to help a lost adult cat when, half a decade ago, a woman stepped out of the rain and into Ann’s store with the shop pet that customers now rave about as, “the sweetest cat they’ve ever met.”

Amelia, voted Manayunk’s Best Shop Pet, is a gorgeous calico cat with a charming coat of fur made up of orange, black, and white. Ann took one look at this beauty and told the woman, “Leave her here. Maybe we can get her adopted or at least foster her in the meantime.”

While Ann herself was initially hesitant to take Amelia in, because of possible cat allergies and her concerns about how the cat would treat the books in her store, she still cared for Amelia’s well-being. She decided to take Amelia to the vet to check for a chip in the cat that could trace back to her home. As it turned out, Amelia had no chip so Ann made sure to get her shots up to date and ensured that she was eating well again before fostering the cat herself.

After having fostered Amelia for a while and discussing possible adoption plans with others that fell through, Ann decided she had fallen in love with Amelia and was ready to adopt her as her new shop pet. In a matter of moments that Ann describes as “a fateful night that was meant to be,” Amelia the Cotton Street stray had found a new home at The Spiral Bookcase.

Amelia’s personality is best described as a people cat.

“She just adores attention and adores people,” Ann said. “She is pretty persistent when she wants attention. We even have dog people coming in who aren’t interested in cats that say how different Amelia is.”

Amelia’s daily routine starts with her early morning rounds of the store, as she looks out the door windows and walks about, before settling in on one of the chairs in the little reading room in the back of the store.

“She has people who come to see her because they adore her and just want to sit and spend time with her,” Ann said.

When The Spiral Bookcase opens for the day, Amelia’s routine includes greeting people as they come in the store and meowing at people to give her love and attention.

“She takes ownership of people,” Ann said. “I’ve never met such a friendly cat. My cats at home are friendly, but nothing to the level of how she looks at people.”

Amelia’s friendly personality has not gone unnoticed by many in the Philadelphia community.

“She’s had a couple of different brushes with fame,” Ann mentioned.

Amelia’s fame began when she won The Best International Bookstore Cat competition that Ann entered her in through Quirk Books, a Philly-based publisher. Amelia became even more famous when Philly.com picked up her story, and she was prominently featured in the book entitled Bookstore Cats. Later on, she was featured in another article on Voters.com called Bookstore Cats That Are Worth Taking A Road Trip For.

“Randomly, I’ll get an article sent by a customer that says, ‘I found her on this website,’” Ann recalled. “She has this magical ability to make people fall in love with her,” Ann said.

Amelia was even featured on a pencil pouch that Out of Print Clothing Company did for Independent Bookstore Day.

“She’s been on merchandise,” Ann laughed. “It’s great! We’re working on getting more merchandise of her in the store, like buttons and magnets. Next up, a children’s book!”

At 17 years young, Amelia is still thriving.

“She is very spry,” Ann said, “Everyone is very surprised at how old she is.”

Amelia does have Hyperthyroidism, meaning she has an overactive thyroid, a typical condition in older cats. She has blood work done every six months and is fed special food for this condition, which Ann says can be expensive at times.

“We do ask for donations for her,” Ann mentioned, “We call it Amelia’s Medical Fund and people are very generous because they love her so much.”
Amelia has been at The Spiral Bookcase for the majority of the seven and a half years Ann has been in business.

“I can’t imagine this store without her. She just attaches herself to people,” Ann expressed proudly. “It is just her favorite thing, to be adored.”

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