The welcome committee at King’s Books had half the purrs Wednesday.
Miko, tabby cat turned Tacoma icon, passed away this week after 11 years greeting customers at the shop, at 218 St. Helens Ave.
“It wasn’t just some random cat,” store owner sweet pea Flaherty said. “That’s what they associate King’s Books with. He was such a feature.”
Miko died at about age 16 Tuesday when he was euthanized, Flaherty said.
The feline had been suffering from a hyperthyroid condition, arthritis and a heart murmur. His paws started to swell recently, and when a veterinarian said he wasn’t going to get better, Flaherty thought it best to say goodbye while Miko was in good spirits and before he experienced more discomfort.
The cat – one of two who lived at King’s – was a sort of bookstore Godzilla, his owner said. Knocking tomes off the counter was habit, as was laying on the credit card machine and keyboard.
“He was happiest in the way,” Flaherty said. “I called him our IT specialist.”
He drooled when he was happy, and was always on snack patrol.
Such a search recently took him to the kitchen at Doyle’s Public House. It was the farthest he’d ever made it without being caught at the bar, which he took it upon himself to frequent, Flaherty said.
He declared himself to the employees there with a loud meow.
Tacomans shared Miko memories on the King’s Books facebook page Wednesday.
“Miko would visit Doyle’s and jump on the bench and sit with us,” Lee Overland commented. Someone would then take Miko back to the bookstore next door, Overland said.
He wasn’t afraid of crowds, at one point trying to sneak into the packed tent the bar set up to show World Cup games this summer.
At bookstore functions, he’d fearlessly stroll through the masses until the right person would find him and pick him up.
“He usually would wait until the event started, and then walk up front, like: ‘Hey, thank you all for coming,’” Flaherty said.
He’s survived by the other King’s cat, the all-black Atticus, who was adopted about five years ago as a friend for Miko when gray store kitty Harriet passed.
It’s not clear when Atticus might get a new companion.
“When we lost Harriet, we gave it a couple months, and Miko let us know he was ready for a friend,” Flaherty said. “We’ll see what happens. It’s definitely a certain cat that’s going to be chased by toddlers and woken up all the time that can deal with being in the bookstore.”
Atticus seemed to be doing OK Wednesday, he said. He was sleeping a lot, though that’s not unusual when the weather gets colder, the owner said.
Miko regularly made a cuddle puddle with Atticus whenever he tried to take over the cat bed. That was about the only time the overly helpful tabby let Flaherty ring up customers in peace.
“I'll also never forget the time sweet pea was at the back and Miko rang up my books!” Heide Fernandez-Llamazares wrote on Facebook.
“I loved being greeted by him when I came into the shop,” Dorey Kendle posted. “He will most definitely be missed.”
Miko was the muse of several artists over the years, and the inspiration for a large letter-press print of him and Atticus done earlier this year for a store festival.
The theme for the event was “Tacoma,” Flaherty said.
He plans to hang the print in the shop soon.
“Most people who have been to the store have met him,” the owner said. “He was such a great greeter. It is truly weird to be at the bookstore without him.”