The well-known bookstore cat of Blue Bicycle passed away this past Tuesday. The following is an excerpt from the memorial email sent out by the store’s owner:
Commonly seen sunning in the store window, lounging on a book, or tucked away behind a shelf, Purdy brought joy to countless visitors and book lovers. A common question from customers, shocked to see a pet in a King Street shop, was “Is that a real cat?”
She endured toddlers’ aggressive pettings and tail-pullings, and was always willing to be picked up, carried and cuddled by fans. Many visitors came not to browse books at all, but to see her. College students who missed their cats back home would drop in to get “a cat fix.” One couple from Holland who keep a second home in Charleston made daily CARTA pilgrimages from West Ashley, bringing treats and conversation.
Purdy was born in Dallas, Tex., and adopted by Jim and Lee Breeden, the previous owners of Blue Bicycle Books (then Boomer’s Books). Jim was a history professor at Southern Methodist University and she kept showing up at his doorstep, begging for food. They brought her to Charleston to live at Boomer’s, where she roomed with another cat named Grumpy. (Interestingly, before Grumpy’s death in 1999, Purdy was the less-sociable cat of the pair, usually hiding behind a shelf.)
In 2007, when Jonathan and Lauren Sanchez bought the store from the Breedens, Purdy conveyed with the sale. The bookstore was her home and it was agreed by both parties that she would suffer if uprooted.
In her eighteen years at the store, Purdy became something of a local celebrity, and is possibly the most photographed cat in Charleston history. In a time when many feel the book world is becoming too corporate and impersonal, the presence of a living, breathing, “real” cat was a heartening emblem of the charms and warmth of a locally-owned, bricks-and-mortar bookstore.
She was a dear friend and co-worker and will be greatly missed.