Submitted by Blake on April 13, 2016 - 1:01pm
So how did they end up in bookstores? Look to Russia and a special decree issued by Empress Elizabeth in 1745 looking for “the best and biggest cats, capable of catching mice” to be sent to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg to protect the treasures contained within from rats (this tradition lives on to the present day, with dozens of strays living in the basement of the museum). Not long after, sometime in the early 1800s, with Europeans still sure rats caused the Black Death (this idea has been mostly debunked, although now scholars believe gerbils might be to blame), and rat catchers unable to stop the rodents from overrunning filthy urban centers, governments started to pay libraries to keep cats in order to help bring down populations of book-loving vermin.
From Why Do Cats Love Bookstores? | Literary Hub