The Beloved Store Cats of San Francisco

Chris Arvin
4 min readNov 21, 2017

A day in San Francisco can come with an unexpected moment: having a poem read to you on Cole Street, seeing a streetcar shaped like a boat, or the tamale lady showing up at the perfect moment. One of the greatest unexpected moments is perusing a store only to find a resident store cat. These cats brighten up your day and spark connections between strangers. In celebration, here are a few of my favorite store cats I’ve met around the city:

1. Dogg, a classic bodega cat

Dogg is perched on her cardboard box throne.

I’ll admit that I often make up an excuse to go into George’s Market just so I can say hi to Dogg. She may be a little cautious at first, but once she gets to know you, you’ll be best friends. When she’s not lounging on the shelves of the cash register, you’ll often find her in a basket on the counter or on one of her various cardboard box thrones.

Dogg is so worshipped that the mural on the storefront has an homage to her.

Left: Dogg is given a tribute on the store’s mural. Right: Dogg chills in a basket.

2. Owen, purr-veyor of books

Need to reach a book on a higher shelf? Too bad.

Walking down Church St., you may notice something strange amongst the piles of books in Aardvark Books’ window: an orange tabby! Owen distracts others from reading more than he does any reading himself, but his personality has earned him a loyal local fan base.

Note: Aardvark is closing up shop early next year, so make sure you get in soon to give Owen a pat.

3. Louise, guard cat

Louise is a goofy tuxedo cat at a pet goods store called Mission Critter. She often hangs out towards the front of the store, which can cause a frighten for pups that excitedly bolt through the front door looking for treats.

4. Sherman, the greeter cat

Sherman graciously accepts a pat.

A common sight on Chenery St. in Glen Park is Sherman, sunbathing outside his home at Bird & Beckett Books and Records. When he’s not helping the jazz band set up their gear or recommending an obscure 1960s album on vinyl, he trolls the sidewalk looking for pets. It works.

A day in the life of Sherman

5. Boots, coffee snob

The nice folks at Four Barrel Coffee in Portola found Boots when they moved in. They’ve taken on Boots as one of their own. Boots is a great companion for your morning purred-wave coffee.

What is she thinking about?
Boots hopes to one day be in this mural as well.

6, 7 and 8. Loretta, Dolly and Piper

They don’t call this place Animal House for nothing. These cats are often in the window, so look out for them as you walk down Fillmore St.

The cats of Animal House in Lower Haight. Thanks Kat Siegal for the top right photo!

Top: Loretta & Dolly snuggle in the window. Bottom left: Life is hard for Piper, who guards the bags of food from rodents. Bottom right: scary.

These store cats are as loved by the community as they are by their owners. If you have a favorite San Francisco store cat that isn’t listed here, drop me a line and perhaps there will be a Part Two.