Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A London Lobster & an Idea

A dear friend of mine recently returned from London; she travels there often and knows all the best things to do and see. She's the kind of friend who will ask seriously if you want her to bring you anything from abroad. I'm the kind of friend who takes her up on it. Since I know she loves Harrod's, I asked her to visit the pet department (4th floor) and get us a tiny peach-velvet catnip shrimp (prawn).

Why didn't I buy this precious item when I was buying a hedgehog, giraffe, and motorized guinea pig at Harrod's in May? Ask my husband: he's responsible for our catnip shrimp deprivation. He keeps saying we have too many cat toys, since they fill a basket. But he has been outvoted repeatedly on this issue, 5 to 1.

Naturally, Harrod's was out of catnip shrimp on the day my friend visited. She and a clerk patiently searched through all the cat items — an amazing variety, I've never seen anything like it — in vain. So, in keeping with the shellfish theme, she chose this sweet little lobster instead. I love its delicate, pale-peach lobster feathers — and so does Harris. He stole it off my desk and chewed them up before I had a chance to remove the labels and photograph it properly:

Harris thinks all lobsters should have feathers.

I think all cats should have access to the quantities of cat toys that Harrod's has. What do you think of opening a cats-only shop in Boston? How many dog-centric, or dogs-only shops do we have? I can't keep track of them all: Pawsh, Polka Dog, D'tails, Four Preppy Paws, Dogfather (North End).... Even my favorite, Fish + Bone, is at least 80% dog. It's time Boston had a cat shop, which would sell only the healthy (and hard to get) foods that owners can buy with a clear conscience. (No kibble.) 

I know that someone has been hoping to open a cat café in town. Theoretically, I should love this idea, but I worry that Americans won't be as respectful or well-behaved around the cats as the Japanese (and French) have been. I'm often surprised at how people behave towards my cats, including friends, relatives, and workmen who say they love cats and even have a few of their own. Some make hissing noises almost instinctively — "Psssst!" "Ssssssst"  — thinking this will attract my cats. It's a hostile sound that instantly drives them away. Or they call, "Hey, come over here!" loudly and cheerfully. Or they try to pick up the cat before the cat has investigated and accepted them. Or, instead of stroking, they ruffle the cat's fur backwards or thump their backs, which might be fine for dogs but rarely is for cats. And so on. 

Keep in mind that I'm talking about people who love cats, not those who say they don't. The "haters" often behave better around cats because they keep their distance and ignore them. (Of course, people usually "hate" cats because cats decided they detested them first. Often, such people simply have voices that are loud or grating to cats' ears.) So the cat café concept troubles me. Given the ways that many Americans behave toward cats, I think it will be tough to retrain them. 

But imagine a cat shop with everything you read about online but can never find, plus a few friendly, adoptable rescues to keep you company.... It would be a great place to hang out without having to drink bubble tea, another thing I will never understand. 

Send your capital and retail experience my way, and we can make this happen. 


  1. I couldn't agree more about the need for a cat-centric pet shop in Boston! Whenever I go to Fish & Bone to pick up cat food I have to squeeze past people in the front with their drooling, wagging dogs. Why do all the cat stuff have to be in the BACK room, as if the cat section is an afterthought?


    1. It's true! I was in there twice today (for Neko Flies toys) and it's dog city! I special-order all the food we need, and it's great that they deliver for free, but I wish they had lots more stuff for cats. I often have to go to Brookline and hope that the two dog-centric stores there will have what I need.


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