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Buy a book, adopt a furry friend: Upper Tantallon bookseller fosters Bahamian cats

Customers at Otis and Clementine's Books are greeted by the cats sunbathing at the entrance

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caption Otis and Clementine Owner Ellen Helmke with Logan inside the bookstore.
Meagan Byrd

A good book is not the only thing you can take home at Otis and Clementine’s Books in Upper Tantallon.

Nine foster cats roaming the store are up for adoption, too.

The cats play around the bookstore and can be found taking a nap right on top of the books.

caption Sandra likes to sleep on top of a bookshelf in the back of Otis and Clementine.
Meagan Byrd

Otis and Clementine owner Ellen Helmke has been fostering cats at her store since 2019. She fosters through South Paw Conservation Nova Scotia, which works with the Bahamas Humane Society to find homes for Bahamian cats in Nova Scotia.

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Helmke got the idea to foster cats at the bookstore from a blogger she follows based in Philadelphia.

“She was fostering cats and kittens for fun, writing about it and I thought that was so awesome,” she said in an interview. “So, I thought why not do it here?”

Earlier this month, 13 new cats arrived from the Bahamas through South Paw, which declined an interview. Four have already been adopted into local families.

Shannon Kroetch, a longtime customer of Otis and Clementine’s from Halifax, adopted her cat JiJi after meeting him at the bookstore.

“I happened to be scrolling on Instagram one day and I saw on their account that they had new cats in from the Bahamas,” she said.

Kroetch drove to the bookstore with her cousin and met JiJi.

“He walked up to me, and I picked him up, and rubbed his little face to my neck and two weeks later I came back to pick him up.”

JiJi was five months old in August when Kroetch adopted him. Kroetch says the bookstore was a great environment for JiJi to be fostered in.

“He’s very well socialized and I think that’s a byproduct of spending so much time in the bookstore,” she said. “When I speak with future cat owners or people who want to adopt a cat, I say go to Otis and Clementine’s because if for nothing else they have already been socialized with other cats and with tons of people.”

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