The most famous cat in Chilliwack has crossed the rainbow bridge.
Nietzsche, the well-known, ginger feline who welcomed people into The Book Man for more than 12 years, died on Monday. He was about 18 years old.
“He was a king… a king amongst cats,” said Amber Price, co-owner of The Book Man. “Nietzsche was always so patient and generous of spirit with others… friendly, curious. A very interactive cat who could handle the pressures of the job.”
He made his home in the downtown book store in 2008 after being found on Trethewey Avenue in 2005 by cat rescuer Ena Vermerris.
Over the course of nine months, he was in and out of Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven three times. After living with one elderly woman for three years, who later became unwell and had to give him up, Nietzsche became an orphan again in 2008.
It was then that Vermerris of Ena’s Community Cats (then with Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven) introduced him to the folks at The Book Man. (He was originally named Peppin, but got the name “Nietzsche” by popular vote from customers during a contest.)
Nietzsche finally found his forever home – the entire bookstore was his.
As customers searched for books in the aisles, Nietzsche could be seen sashaying about the store. The rows of books were his catwalk. The burgundy-coloured armchair was his bed.
Nietzsche became quite popular after becoming the official bookstore cat.
He was the face of countless calendar fundraisers sold each year by The Book Man to help raise money for Ena’s Community Cats. Nietzsche merchandise has been made in his honour including pins, cloth bags and bookmarks – some of which he “signed” with his “pawtograph.”
He was named top bookstore cat of the year by AbeBooks.com in 2010, has been in magazines, and was even featured on the cover of Bookstore Cats, a book released by Brandon Schultz of New York in 2017.
There isn’t one single thing about Nietzsche that led to his fame, but rather everything, said Price.
“He’s a total babe. He’s an apricot beauty,” she said. “Nice size, nice temperament, approachable, soft. Every single thing you could want in a cat, Nietzsche embodied.”
He was a true community cat. For people who couldn’t own a cat, Nietzsche was theirs. For those who recently lost their own cat, Nietzsche was there for them.
“He belonged to everybody and he knew that,” Price said.
Nietzsche could “bring anyone to their knees” to get affection from them, Price added, whether it was a playful child or a big, muscular, camouflage-wearing man.
“He was an equalizer.”
And he remembered people, too.
“Last week when I walked in (to The Book Man) he came to me. He knew my voice,” Vermerris said.
But Nietzsche’s health had been deteriorating for the past few weeks, so Price and Vermerris knew it was time for him to go. There were a lot of tears at The Book Man on Monday as everyone said their goodbyes to the “elderly gentleman,” Price said.
Over his almost 13 years at The Book Man, Nietzsche helped raised more than $25,000 for Ena’s Community Cats through calendar fundraisers, merchandise sales and donations.
“He changed thousands of cats’ lives with that money,” Price said.
“I think he deserves a mural,” Vermerris added.
People can still buy Nietzsche bookmarks and pins at the store, and the money still goes to Ena’s Community Cats. Price is encouraging people to donate to the cause and, those who are looking to get a cat, consider adopting one who needs a home.
“Please adopt a rescue and give a cat who didn’t have a chance, a chance… just like Nietzsche.”