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Ottawa bookstore cat retiring

Party for Sonny will be Saturday

Sonny, the bookstore cat at Prairie Fox Books in downtown Ottawa, will retire from his job greeting customers and move in with a familiar family. The store is hosting a retirement party for him 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.
Sonny, the bookstore cat at Prairie Fox Books in downtown Ottawa, will retire from his job greeting customers and move in with a familiar family. The store is hosting a retirement party for him 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.

When Dylan Conmy eats lunch at Prairie Fox Books, he never eats alone.

The minute a bag pops or crinkles, his coworker is by his side checking out the menu.

It’s just in his nature. Sonny is a curious cat.

“That cat could be downstairs in the basement dead asleep and if I open up any sort of lunch bag, Jimmy John’s wrapper, he was up and ready. He’d be on this counter so quick,” Conmy said. 

This is the last week Conmy, Prairie Fox Books special events coordinator, will have company while he eats lunch, as Sonny, a staple of the Book Mouse and presently Prairie Fox Books in downtown Ottawa, is retiring.

Sonny doesn’t know life outside of a bookstore, Conmy said, having come to the Book Mouse as a kitten in the summer of 2008. The staff is throwing a retirement party for Sonny from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.

The feline is going to a family with two children at the recommendation of Eileen Fesco, who owned the Book Mouse. Sonny has met the family twice and gets along well with the children, Conmy said.

“They have been contacting us frequently. They can’t wait to get him. I think he’s going to be very happy and spoiled.”

Customers have been understanding of Sonny’s departure, but will miss the outgoing cat’s presence.

“If customers come in he will follow them and meow. Give suggestions and a tour. He’s very vocal,” Conmy said.

If he’s not following a customer around, he can be found sprawled across the counter — mainly when staff is trying to check out a customer, of course.

If there’s an empty box, however, you’ll likely find him there as a box trumps all other options. 

He’s also a ham for the camera and, after hours, can be found at the front window looking for dogs to taunt.

He’ll approach anyone, but will politely excuse himself if the bookstore gets too busy, Conmy said.

“He has people that come in from out of town specifically just to visit him when they’re in this direction. He loves to be pet. He’s definitely a ham and loves the attention.”

Sonny’s fans are not age specific, Conmy noted, saying he’s a favorite of toddlers and regulars alike.

Conmy has worked alongside his four-legged coworker on and off since moving to Ottawa in 2012.

“I have very fond memories of him and Ernie, the chinchilla,” Conmy said. The chinchilla has since died. “It was the one super unique thing when I started working at the Book Mouse, because you don’t often see a chinchilla walking around either. So to have this very uniquely colored cat co-existing with the chinchilla, just chilling, it was great.

“You don’t see many Barnes & Nobles with a fuzzy mascot.”

Conmy is an owner of three cats himself, but will miss having four cats to feed instead of three.

“It’ll be strange to not have the first thing I do when I come to the store in the morning to be to feed the cat.”

Sonny’s retirement party from Prairie Fox Books

When:  10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20

Where: 722 La Salle St., Ottawa

What: Special sales, Sonny’s staff picks, food, large card for customers to sign for Sonny to take to his new home.

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