Herbert, the beloved cat at King’s Books in Tacoma, has died

Herbert, the beloved cat at King’s Books in Tacoma, has died
Herbert, the beloved cat at King’s Books in Tacoma, has died


Some cats are, effectively, simply cats.

Herbert, in accordance with King’s Books proprietor candy pea Flaherty, was “an event.”

“I guess it’s kind of cliche to call him a cool cat, but he was a cool cat,” Flaherty, 48, stated on Monday, describing the beloved black-and-white feline that known as the well-known Tacoma bookstore residence till final week. “(Herbert) was really engaged, but he was also aloof, and so you kind of wanted to be his friend … People would actually go out of their way to court him and get on his good side.”

With a nostril and chin that appeared dipped in ink, Herbert was many issues to many individuals, in accordance with Flaherty. To some he was a good friend and confidant, a sole motive to go to the shop. To others, he was an intriguing enigma, nonchalantly lounging amid the stacks and paperbacks.

On June 21, Herbert died unexpectedly after a short sickness, King’s recently announced on social media. The feline was 11 — at the very least roughly, in accordance with Flaherty, who adopted him in 2015. A celebration of Herbert’s life might be held at 6 p.m. on June 30 at King’s Books in Tacoma’s St. Helens neighborhood.

Whereas Flaherty acknowledged that public memorial companies for cats are comparatively uncommon, the long-time bookstore proprietor stated Herbert deserves the respect, and that — judging by the response to his dying — the general public clearly wants an opportunity to collectively mourn his passing.

Herbert left the bodily world for no matter comes subsequent with scores of heartbroken native admirers, Flaherty stated.

“It’s hard, because here at the bookstore and the neighboring businesses it’s like we kind of have our private grief from losing a friend, but then we are also managing the public grief. People are sad. Customers have cried, just here at the store,” Flaherty stated.

“It’s been kind of a lot.”

Herbert was additionally quite a bit, which helps the outpouring of feelings make sense.

As a youthful cat, Herbert arrived at King’s Books seven years in the past prepared to begin the following chapter of life. Deserted by his earlier proprietor, Flaherty stated, Herbert had survived on his distinctive appeal and the generosity of neighbors, who fed him and stored him “plump and luscious” till he discovered his option to the Humane Society. There’s a history of bookstore cats at King’s dating back two decades, and it was shortly evident that Herbert — who solely appeared to hate canine — would match proper in, Flaherty stated, largely due to his “nonplussed” nature and skill to “take whatever’s coming.”

“It’s kind of a circus. We’ll have small children come in, and then some customers are very good with cats and some are not,” Flaherty stated. “When (Herbert) was annoyed by customers, he would go and bite me.”

For the primary three years of his time at King’s, Herbert wasn’t the one four-legged inhabitant of the bookstore. His longtime companion, a black feline named Atticus, handed away in 2018. In accordance with Flaherty, Atticus’ dying marked a low level for Herbert, who struggled with the lack of his pricey good friend.

Within the wake of Herbert’s dying, Flaherty stated, a whole lot of retailer prospects are coping with related feelings. Many have reached out to share fond reminiscences and condolences, and a pair from Washington D.C., who befriended Herbert on a visit to Tacoma, even despatched flowers to the shop.

Flaherty shared a handful of emails with The Information Tribune.

“When the pandemic closed King’s to browsing, I deeply missed the experience of being greeted (or possibly ignored) by Herbert as I entered the store. … The day I was finally able to enter the shop again was such a sweet blessing after so long away,” wrote one retailer patron.

“I’ll miss sweet, indifferent Herbert so much!!”

Every week after Herbert’s passing, Flaherty stated it’s the little reminders of the loss that harm probably the most. It’s particularly tough within the mornings, when the doorways open and Herbert’s not there clamoring for breakfast.

Nonetheless, whereas Flaherty is processing the shock of Herbert’s surprising dying, studying about how he touched prospects’ lives — typically in surprising methods — has helped the shop proprietor navigate the ache.

“We know he was a special cat, but what we forget is that he had a real impact on other people,” Flaherty stated.

“He definitely affected more people than we realize.”

This story was initially revealed June 29, 2022 5:00 AM.

Comply with extra of our reporting on Instagram on The Information Tribune


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Matt Driscoll is a columnist at The Information Tribune and the paper’s Opinion editor. A McClatchy President’s Award winner, Driscoll is captivated with Tacoma and strives to inform tales that may in any other case go untold.

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