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Curl Up with a Book and a Kitten at Pillow-Cat Books

The East Village indie bookshop curates animal-centric publications from Beatrix Potter and Louis Wain to avant-garde manga zines and black-and-white photo tomes.

by Avery Felman
January 12, 2022
Tan bunny sits on a bookshelf

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Nestled in the heart of the East Village, Pillow-Cat Books rubs shoulders with neighborhood staples Veselka and the Angelika Theatre, embodying the best of an iconic area which is sadly becoming rapidly commercialized. New York’s “first animal-focused bookshop” takes pride in its whimsical contribution to an otherwise dwindling community of local artists.

Pillow-Cat Books is a family affair. Owner Cleo Le-Tan has always had an affinity for animals, growing up with them in France. She recently rescued a kitten, appropriately named Pillow, who takes her job as shop mascot very seriously, sunbathing on the window sill and cat-napping in the display case. Le-Tan’s sister, Olympia, is the head of visual merchandising, but you may know her as the designer of her eponymous line of velvet flats embroidered with cat faces and handbags fashioned after literary classics — one even features artwork from the original Cats Broadway Playbill.

cat on a zebra print chair

Literary classics also line the avocado-green shelves at Pillow-Cat Books, from Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit tales to Charlotte’s Web to Aesop’s Fables. Make no mistake, this is not a children’s bookstore, at least not exclusively — the only shop rule is that an animal feature in a book. So you’ll also find more scientific, artistic, and avant-garde titles including a 101-year-old copy of Louis Wain’s illustrated Annuals of anthropomorphic cats, black-and-white photo tomes by Hungarian animal photography pioneer YLLA, Japanese manga magazines, adult short stories by myriad international authors, dog training manuals, and tongue-in-cheek offerings such as The Life & Death of Fritz the Cat — the main character of which is described as a “horny, hip-talking feline.”

The animal theme extends to the decor. Faux fur rugs shaped like tigers and panda bears (for sale), and zebra-printed chairs offer cozy spots to curl up on and flip through old favorites and new finds, perhaps alongside the likes of Sevingys and Skarsgards. Only one question remains: Can I bring my dog? Yes!

cat in the book store window

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Avery, editor at The Wildest, and her cat, Chicken

Avery Felman

Avery is an editor at The Wildest. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her boyfriend and cat, Chicken, and has high hopes that one of them will let her adopt a dog.