Otis & Clementine’s Books & Coffee is located in Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia.
Ellen Helmke opened the secondhand bookstore in 2011. The shop offers a space for customers to drink coffee, unwind, and pick up a new book or two.
Visitors will discover that the bookstore has more to offer than just compelling reads and organic coffee.
Upon entering the shop, customers are greeted at the door by a handful of cuddly kittens who are free to roam the space, climb on bookshelves, and take cat naps on the window sills. The kittens also happen to be available for adoption.
“It’s a perfect fit having the cats here. It just makes the space feel cozier,” Helmke told Insider. “Sometimes people come in just to see the cats and sometimes people don’t even know that cats are here. It’s very cute.”
Helmke told Insider that she started fostering kittens at her bookstore in an effort to provide them with a temporary home until they could be adopted.
Helmke started fostering kittens at her shop in May 2019.
“The idea for me was to have a continual supply of kittens in my shop that were all adoptable,” she said. “I make sure that they’ve had all their shots and socialize them with people who come in and out of the store.”
“It’s definitely been a benefit to me in terms of my quality of life and the success of my business,” Helmke said of having kittens roam around her store.
Helmke told Insider that having kittens inside the bookstore has attracted more customers. She’s also enjoyed being able to come to work every day and help kittens find their forever homes.
“It’s definitely been a benefit to me in terms of my quality of life and the success of my business,” she said. “The books are in good shape, but the kittens are what gets people talking.”
Most of her customers have found out about the shop through the store’s social media pages, which feature adorable images of the cats and include updates about incoming pets that will be available for adoption.
The cats are provided by the South Paw Conservation Nova Scotia (SPCA), a local rescue group.
The SPCA manages the entire adoption process, and places the rescue kittens in temporary foster homes such as Helmke’s until a more permanent living situation can be found.
Insider spoke with an SPCA employee who said that applicants hoping to bring home a new kitten will need to pay a $235 CAD ($177 USD) adoption fee, as well as submit an online application. All of the kittens are up to date on vaccines, are spayed/neutered, and are de-wormed.
But customers who have their hearts set on a particular cat are encouraged to act quickly, as Helmke says that they’re often in and out of the store within a couple of weeks.
“I usually only have the kittens for a couple of weeks on average, and then they get adopted,” Helmke said. “The interest in each one is amazing. As soon as we get new cats in people are like, ‘I want to get my application and send it in!'”
Helmke says that 30 cats have been adopted from her bookstore since she started the foster program in May 2019.
“We have a 100% adoption rate,” Helmke told Insider.
Visitors planning a trip to see the kittens should call the store ahead of time to check that there are still some available for adoption.
Helmke explained that fostering has been a win-win for both her business and the cats. “It draws customers to the store, the kittens become socialized, and they easily find homes,” she said.
More information on the kittens and Helmke’s shop can be found on the website.
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