The Dusty Bookshelf in Aggieville now has more than books in its windows. Oliver, a tuxedo cat, has recently taken up residence in the store.
Oliver used to live under the Varsity Donut food truck in Aggieville, where he survived on scraps of food dropped by patrons all of last fall. He was known as “Mac” by the food truck workers, because he often ate dropped pieces of mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwiches, one of the foods served at the truck.
In November, a group from The Dusty Bookshelf took him in and gave him a new home among the book shelves. They decided Mac needed a more “literary” sounding name and changed it to Oliver. His full name is Oliver Mac, according to Sarah Wilson, store manager.
They believe Oliver is less than a year old. Right now, he is quick and energetic, but employees think he will mellow with age. He often hides upstairs in the office space, where his food and toys are located, but ventures down to mingle with customers occasionally.
Oliver has recently taken to hiding under tables, jumping out at people’s feet and stealing pieces of paper, Wilson said. He sometimes follows the employees and bats at their hands through gaps in the shelving as they put away books.
The best times to catch a glimpse of Oliver is in the early mornings and late evenings when the store is the quietest, Wilson said. He likes to sit on the rugs underneath the tables.
Right now, Wilson said, he doesn’t like petting, but she anticipates he will warm up as he gets used to his surroundings. Until then, Wilson encourages shoppers to give him treats.
Holly Banks, employee at The Dusty Bookshelf, said Oliver likes to have “staring contests,” especially with small children.
“I think he’s a sweetheart,” Banks said. “When you’re closing or opening, he follows you around and helps.”
Wilson said that, in a few months, Oliver should be used to the store and not wander far.
“He’s getting curious about the doors,” Wilson said. “When it gets warmer and we open the doors, hopefully he will stay in the building.”
History of felines friends
Before Oliver, The Dusty Bookshelf had two cats- Cleo and Maxine. The liter mates enjoyed wandering the book stacks and entertaining patrons, said Diane Meredith, owner of The Dusty Bookshelf.
Cleo and Maxine had been abandoned in an Aggieville alley when they were kittens. Meredith took them in, and they stayed at the book store for more than 15 years.
Maxine passed away in 2008. Cleo, who would frequently sit on the counter while customers were making purchases, passed away in 2013. Cleo’s death prompted the owners to look for a new feline friend for the shop.
“Cats have been around Dusty Bookshelf since I was tiny,” Danielle Genschorck, junior in criminology, said.
The presence of a cat among the books of The Dusty Bookshelf has become a staple over the years, and the store is happy to welcome Oliver to the mix.
“People would come in and look for them and pet them, kind of like a college kid’s surrogate pet away from home,” Wilson said. “Bookstores and cats seem to go together very well.”