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American Library Cats 1

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These pages are devoted to library cats, both past and present, in the United States of America, and we are collecting them together into a separate set of pages because there have been quite a large number of them over the years. While recent (2010) budget cuts and economic difficulties have meant that some American libraries have been unable to keep their feline mascots, or cats have not been replaced when they died, in other places library cats are alive and well and continuing to give great pleasure to staff and patrons alike, as well as performing their job of rodent control. Dewey Readmore Books of Spencer, Iowa has become the most celebrated library feline, of course, but we dedicate these pages to all the other unsung library cats across America who have made, and continue to make, libraries pleasant and 'fun' places to be.

Information and images have been gleaned from many sources, notably but not exclusively library web pages, and we express warm thanks to all who have supplied information, particularly those librarians with whom we have been in touch. If you see anything that is incorrect or incomplete, we'd be pleased to hear from you so we can amend it. Our very special thanks and acknowledgements go to Gary Roma, whose Library Cats Map at the Iron Frog website perhaps inspired this whole project as well as providing certain images, and whose 1997 film Puss in Books (available on video) gives a fascinating insight into the world of library cats. His listings are much more complete than ours can be here, and also extend to library cats in many other parts of the world.

Entries are arranged alphabetically by library name

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Porter C Bibliocat, of the Anna Porter Public Library, Gatlinburg, Sevier County, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Sevier County, Tennessee

Late in 2009 the library adopted a cat, a ginger-and-white male of about 3 years old, from the local animal shelter and named him Porter C. Bibliocat (Porter after the library's founder, while the 'C' stands for 'Catalog'). There was a complaint that having a cat in the library was a disservice to people with allergies; but in a refreshing decision the Board of Trustees decided it would be in the best interest of the library and its patrons and employees to keep a resident cat. As can be seen from the photos, Porter is a laid-back feline, and we are told he does not 'talk' a lot. At weekends and holiday times he is visited and cared for by staff who live nearby.
     Although several Trustees have cat allergies, they are not worried about one well-groomed cat in a relatively large, open space. For patrons, library director Kenton Temple has placed an attractive, well-worded sign regarding Porter at the library entrance; any patron can request that Porter be relegated to the back during their visit, and the staff will comply.

Piper - Arkansas School for the Blind, Little Rock, AR
Library cat Big Footsie - Arkansas School for the Blind, Little Rock, AR
Library cat Alex - Arkansas School for the Blind, Little Rock, AR Snugglebunny and Tank - Arkansas School for the Blind, Little Rock, AR
Library cats Daisy, Bill and Valley - Arkansas School for the Blind, Little Rock, AR Library cats Tank and Bessie - Arkansas School for the Blind, Little Rock, AR Shadow and Barney - Arkansas School for the Blind, Little Rock, AR

Little Rock, Arkansas

The library cat programme was started in the late 1990s by long-time librarian Susan Loesch. The cats don't live at the library, but the current library cat(s) travel back and forth with her each working day, It seems Piper was the first one to be taken in, as a 4-month-old-kitten; he had a long tenure as one of the 'assistant library cats' until autumn 2010, when he died of intestinal lymphoma. In 2001 Big Footsie arrived, having been rescued from being put to sleep at an animal shelter. He was so named as he had large feet with extra toes, and he became Head Library Cat. This is a responsible position, involving being photographed when school pictures are taken and appearing in the faculty section of the yearbook; riding in the Library float for the homecoming parade; meeting Santa Claus for photos at Christmas time; making the library a fun and happy place to visit; and being the Accelerated Reader Program 'reading motivator' for the elementary-school students. Heavy stuff — so it takes a special cat! The much loved 'Foots' was lost to heart disease and renal failure in summer 2009, after 8 years in post. He has a memorial book in his honour, and an oil painting of him now resides on the library front desk.
     In November 2003 four 3-week-old kittens came to the library, still needing to be bottle fed. Only one survived, the male, and he grew into the handsome red tabby Alex, who celebrated his sixth birthday in October 2009 with a party attended by many friends and admirers from the school. Guests were regaled with popcorn and 'orange tabby punch'! Alex quickly grew into his position as the new Head Library Cat following Footsie's demise. In addition to the chief library cats, there have been several assistants; as well as Piper, mentioned above, Footsie was assisted by Daisy, Valley, Bessie and Bill Murray at various times. Daisy was a little tabby; Valley a flamepoint Siamese; and Bill Murray another Siamese who became a great favourite. All were positive for feline leukaemia; Bill was at the library for 3 years, the other two for shorter periods. Bessie was a tortoiseshell Manx who had heartworms; treatment with drugs was lengthy but ultimately successful, and she was at the library for 4 years before dying from residual heart problems resulting from the earlier treatment.
     More recently there was SnuggleBunny (formerly Sabrina), a 6-month-old sealpoint Siamese kitten from a Missouri rescue group where she was facing euthanasia. She was chubby and playful, but also tested positive for feline leukaemia and so it was expected she might have quite a short life. The library staff and the children of the school were determined to make that life as enjoyable for her as possible — which they did. Sadly, the predictions proved to be true, and Snugglebunny died early in 2010. She will be greatly missed. But worse was to come: head library cat Alex became ill with a mystery infection in the following April and died shortly afterwards. His death was completely unexpected.
     To help fill the gap, Tank was taken on; he's a large and cuddly tabby who was rescued from a feral colony. He had infected eyes, but they have been successfully treated. After Snugglebunny's demise he was going to be Alex's assistant, but when Alex died Tank was in line for the top position. However, although he loved the children he did not love the library! He would hide a lot and shed a lot of fur through nervousness. So now he just visits occasionally, and two new 'co-head library cats' have been taken on.
     Barney is a big ol', laid-back, orange tabby who had been living at a feral colony, but the colony caregiver was going to take him to a kill shelter because the ferals were afraid of him. It's hard to know why, because he is as peaceful as can be. He took to the job immediately. His new colleague is Shadow, a 2-year-old all-black cat, outgoing and calm, and who also took to the job. As well as their library duties, the two of them act as public-relations cats at fund-raising events for Feline Rescue and Rehome (FuRR, a rescue organisation that Susan and four friends started in 2001 and from where most of the library cats have come. See, for example, this page at Susan's blog site for the library cat programme, Cat in the Stacks — many more articles and images can be seen there.
With many thanks to Susan Loesch for all her help.

Library cat Molli - Azle Memorial Library, Azle, Texas
Library cat Molli - Azle Memorial Library, Azle, Texas

Azle, Texas

Molli was the beloved cat of the library in the Texas town of Azle, not far from Fort Worth. Her name came from the library's first, DOS-based computer system, which was known as Molli. The cat was so popular that at one point she was 'catnapped' after closing time one Saturday. Posters were put up to report her missing, and on Monday morning a patron returned her, claiming to have found her. The person then gave herself away by saying Molli didn't get on with the dog! No action was taken, as everyone was just so pleased to have Molli back on the job. Molli died in 2007 while work was in progress on a new library building; but a sculpture of her was commissioned so that her memory now lives on in the new location.

Library cat Dr Seuss, late of Bradford Area Public Library, Bradford, Pennsylvania
Library cat Miss Whispurr - Bradford Area Public Library, Bradford, Pennsylvania

Bradford, McKean County, Pennsylvania

For a number of years, from 1987 until he died of old age in 2000, Dr Seuss — usually known just as 'Seuss' — was cat-in-charge at the library. He arrived as a six-month-old kitten in a similar manner to Dewey of Spencer, Iowa — via the book drop on a cold and stormy night — and, as no one claimed him, he and the library adopted each other. During his tenure he trained five library directors and supervised the move to a new building, all the while making sure staff did their jobs properly. For his 12th birthday 100 of his friends were invited to a big party at the library. When Seuss died, which was front-page news in Bradford, he was cremated and his ashes are buried in the garden. He is fondly remembered by a plaque and mounted photograph hanging in the Children's Room.
     The library board was not planning a successor to Seuss, but a survey of patrons convinced them otherwise. The local SPCA thought that Gloria, a Maine Coon kitten, would be a good choice, so in December 2000 she came to take over Seuss' duties, and a contest among children at the library renamed her Miss Whispurr. She has proved to be ideal, attending meetings, sitting in on story hours, walking across keyboards and leaving cat hair everywhere! One of her favourite napping spots is on top of the warm photocopier. There have been very few complaints about her, demonstrating that she does a very good public-relations job for the library. She even appeared on the calendar one year; and a few years ago she was voted winner of the McKean County SPCA’s annual 'favourite pet' contest.
     The staff are cat-friendly, share litter duties and ensure that Miss Whispurr is properly fed (tuna, chicken and spiced beef jerky are favourites). Donations ensure that she is self-supporting. When the library is closed, there will be someone to come along and check on her. Whispurr has a monthly blog, accessible from the library's website, where she gives her view of library affairs, and also has a Facebook page under 'Whispurr Nap'. And she has a library card, too!
Our warm thanks go to library director Linda Newman for supplying the information and images of the Bradford cats.

Library cat TLC - Broken Bow Public Library, Broken Bow, Nebraska

Broken Bow, Custer County, Nebraska

This library is one of few with a traditional open fireplace, so naturally that's where TLC (for Top Library Cat) is likely to be found during those cold Nebraska winters. However, if there's any kind of celebration going on, he's likely to be at the centre of it. He enjoys 'working the room' when poets, authors and various other speakers stop in for a visit, and has stood front and centre at the wedding of a former library board member. When he's not entertaining others, TLC finds that the writing of Lillian Jackson Braun entertains him — but of course he's never against perusing any literature that stars fellow felines or fluttering fish!
     As has been the case in one or two other libraries, there has been an issue about TLC's presence involving a couple of people who claimed they couldn't go to the library because of allergies to him. The library said it would take steps to address the problem, and hopes that TLC will be able to remain there for the rest of his life.

Pumpkin, library cat at Camden Public Library, New York, USA

Camden, New York

Pumpkin was a stray kitten that found his way to the doors of this library in 2007; he is thought to be about 5 years old now (2011). He likes to stay close to the circulation desk, near the staff, but is a wonderful 'greeter' for the library clients and enjoys being a 'lap cat' too. He is well loved, and patrons have brought him gifts of toys, catnip, and even a home-made bed! There's a charming short video of Pumpkin at YouTube.
Thanks to Library Director Linda Frenzel for information.

Library cats Dewey and Kitty - Cazenovia Public Library, Madison County, New York state
Library cat Jesse - Cazenovia Public Library, Madison County, New York state
Library cat Page - Cazenovia Public Library, Madison County, New York state

Cazenovia, Madison County, New York State

Cazenovia is a village in Madison County in the Syracuse metropolitan area of New York State. The first library cat in Cazenovia was Dewey Decimal; he arrived in July 1985 but died in February 1988. He was succeeded by Kitty, who occupied the post for 11 years until October 1999.
     The next feline to grace the library was Jesse, quite an adventurous soul who loved riding in the elevator, 'just because he could'! He had something of a reputation as an 'escape artist', too; but was also a 'meeter and greeter' par excellence and was much loved by patrons. He held his job from 2000 until he died in April 2009, at the age of about 14. Since September 2009, there is a new library cat at Cazenovia; she is called Page and is described as young and very playful.
     The library has a web page devoted to the cats, including a very nice tribute to Jesse.

Library cat Belle - Charles & Ona B Free Memorial Library, Dublin, Virginia

Dublin, Pulaski County, Virginia

The library board in the town of Dublin, Virginia, in 2005 took on Martha as resident cat on the recommendation of the local humane society, as she was so gentle and loved people to pick her up and make a fuss of her. Because she was beginning a new life, it was felt she should have a new name, so she became Belle (after Ona Belle Free) and soon settled in. However, three years later there were apparently some complaints from patrons, most of which seem to have had little or no foundation.
     Unfortunately it does sometimes happen that a very few patrons make complaints about a library cat, which causes problems for the far greater number who enjoy the animal's presence. In these litigious times a library board has to take these matters seriously, though, and in this case the board held a forum to invite public comment. A number of citizens of ages ranging from 12 to 70 spoke or submitted letters in favour of retaining Belle, whereas no one spoke or wrote on this occasion against her. An online petition was also set up for people to sign in Belle's favour. After quite lengthy investigations and deliberations, the matter was duly considered at a board meeting, at which — to many people's relief — a majority of the board voted in favour of keeping Belle at the library, while ensuring that policies and procedures were in place to safeguard her and the patrons' safety.
     There's a nice online picture gallery of Belle, and a very short video of Martha (as she was while with the Pulaksi County Humane Society) at YouTube.

Library cat Nyx - Chesterfield County Public Library, Virginia
Library Cat Nyx - Chesterfield County Public Library, VA
Nyx - Chesterfield County Public Library, Virginia

Chesterfield, Virginia

Wind your way through the offices of the Central Library and you may encounter Nyx, a precocious grey-blue cat with a few cream and white splashes, who inhabits the Collection Management section. From a distance Nyx appears to be a perfectly normal and typical library cat, playing with her many toys, taking naps and keeping library employees company as they go about their day. From time to time, she even rides along on the library book carts.
     But Nyx, named after the Greek goddess of night, is special. She was born, in May 2008, without eyes, so has been blind since birth and has had surgery to protect her empty eye sockets. She was fostered by a local humane society and then in October 2008 was adopted by the library department that is now her home base. She's a compact little cat, with a kink in her tail, which might have been broken at some point. Her blindness is part of the reason why in 2008 county officials granted her permission to live in the library office Monday through Friday. At weekends, she stays at the home of Ann Theis, her adoptive mom and administrator of Collection Management. 'We have a lot of cat lovers here in the library, and Nyx is a very people-oriented cat,' says Ann. 'Most employees were enthusiastic about having her stay here with us. She settled in right away.'
     Nyx's disability doesn't prevent her from getting around the office with ease. She relies on her keen sense of hearing, and senses when there's someone new in the room. She uses her keen hearing to navigate around her office — her head bobbles in order to track sounds. She's sussed out the office area well and can generally be found perched on her 'cat condo' (a prime sunny spot). She has never hissed and is almost always purring, having a 'turbo purr' accented with a bit of a burble and trill. She does 'chat' with people and knows her name. Even employees who didn't previously consider themselves cat lovers warmed to this amazing cat. Staff members chip in for food, toys and other things Nyx needs.
     People from other departments often stop by for a quick 'Nyx fix' — a few minutes of purring, petting and playing. 'She's a great stress reliever,' says one library associate. 'She is a special-needs cat — but only because she is special and we have come to need her!' Nyx is fearless and fun, and life is good. There's a blog with further accounts of Nyx's adventures, more photos, and links to her YouTube and Facebook pages.

Note: readers interested in Nyx's condition may like to know of a book written about life with another blind cat, Homer from New York, and published in 2009. See the review and details of Homer's Odyssey in our Feline Folios section.

Dewey - late of Elko County Library, Elko, NV

Elko, Nevada

Even before a certain cat from Iowa made the name Dewey famous in the cat world, it was understandably something of a favourite for library cats. The handsome grey-tabby bearer of the name from the town of Elko in Nevada resided in the staff section of the library, but he was always pleased to make a public appearance on request! We're sad to report that this beautiful cat died in April 2010. He's very much missed, and according to reference librarian, Patrick Dunn, the place is not the same without Dewey: 'He gave it a sense of character, and it felt like a home.' We understand there are no plans to adopt another feline in the foreseeable future, but there is currently (late 2010) a memorial page for Dewey.

Library cat L.C. - Escondido Public Library, Escondido, California

Escondido, San Diego County, California

L.C. (standing for Library Cat) arrived at the library in 1993 as a tiny kitten, probably no more than 3 months old, when a lady who was moving away brought her in and asked if the youngster could stay there. She did, and became a much loved library cat for a number of years, with patrons often stopping to pet her as they entered the library. In 2001, though, a man filed a claim against the city of Escondido for 1.5 million dollars after his assistance dog was clawed by the cat. He said that when he entered the library late in 2000 he and his dog Kimba were approached by her, and claimed that a fight between the animals ensued in which Kimba suffered scratches. The man claimed that his mixed-breed dog helped him because he suffered from a panic disorder and Kimba could sense his attacks before they actually happened, and that the fight caused him extreme mental anguish. The library was ordered by the City of Escondido not to discuss the incident, but said that it had had a dog-alert system in place for some time. The complainant said that he was not trying to have the cat removed from the library, but he wanted them to warn people with assistance animals better, and he wanted the city to pay for his pain and suffering.
     Eventually the claim was dismissed as frivolous, but as a result of it L.C. was obliged to retire from the library. She was found a private home, where she settled in well, but died in October 2003. She is fondly remembered at the library; a patron even wrote a poem about her, which was inscribed on a plaque and kept on the circulation desk.
     A YouTube video, apparently one of a series of short films under the general title of I am California of the Past made by the Media Arts Center of San Diego, tells L.C.'s story and includes a number of stills.

Library cat Judge Kitty - Fairplay Public Library, Fairplay, Colorado
Judge Kitty - Fairplay Public Library, Fairplay, CO Library cat Buster Bailiff - Fairplay Public Library, Fairplay, Colorado

Fairplay, Park County, Colorado

The resident cat in this library was quite a celebrity in the town of Fairplay, with his image appearing on T-shirts, calendars, mugs and fridge magnets to help fundraising for a new library building. Judge Kitty was cream-coloured, with definite traces of Siamese, and as such was a great 'talker'. It was thought possible that he was the last descendant of the wild cats that roamed the town's streets for many years. He was taken on at the library as a kitten in 1995, when the librarian began to feed him as he seemed to be abandoned; he wouldn't come in until the weather turned cold — but then he never left! He was very friendly and was a great favourite with patrons, especially the children. His name arose because the library is situated in the old county courthouse — and the cat used to hold court there. He had several favoured sleeping spots, including any available lap, and — if it was sunny and he could persuade someone to open the door — outside on the book drop. Going outside proved to be his undoing, however, as in November 2009 he was run over and killed by a truck outside the library.
     Judge Kitty even had his own bank account, although he was not on the county payroll. Library patrons chipped in when he needed surgery for a digestive problem some years ago; and when someone stole the tin into which donations for his upkeep were regularly dropped, the local newspaper carried the story under the headline Judge Kitty Robbed.
     There is now a new library cat, called Buster (or, to give him his full name, 'Buster Bailiff'), a red tabby with one torn ear, who is described as 'a little shy but getting more affectionate and talkative'.

Library cat Louie - Freedom Public Library, Freedom, New Hampshire
Louie - Freedom Public Library, Freedom, NH

Freedom, Carroll County, New Hampshire

Louie is the 7-year-old (2010) resident male tabby cat in the library. Although he's unable to read books himself, despite the fact that he adores them, he looks for books that encourage library patrons to read to him. Two of his favourites are said to be Three Stories You Can Read to Your Cat and Three More Stories You Can Read to Your Cat, both written by Swan Miller and illustrated by True Kelley. Another activity he enjoys is checking out boxes. He is 'gentle with people of all ages and is especially patient with the youngest patrons'. There's a great selection of photos of Louie to be found at the library's blogspot if you spend some time browsing through the archived entries.

Library cat Page - Gladstone Public Library, Gladstone, Oregon

Gladstone, Clackamas County, Oregon

Page, the tabby library cat at the Public Library in Gladstone, Oregon, was the cause of some issues with the security system because of her antics, as reported by Catherine Powers, then the library director. 'Between January and March, I bet I had half a dozen calls from the police that the security alarm had gone off,' said Powers. 'I'd have to drag myself out of bed at 1 a.m. or 3 a.m. to check the building and reset the alarm.'
     She assumed that the alarm system was faulty, because the motion sensor was set too high for 10-pound Page to trigger. A company employee checked out the system, found nothing wrong with it — and offered the only logical explanation. He said, 'I think that cat is sliding down the banister.' Powers assured him that was ridiculous.
     A few weeks later, Page was strolling along the mezzanine stair railing when, just as pretty as you please, she turned and slid down the banister. 'We just all started laughing,' Powers said.
     Sadly, Page died in 2008. We have not heard that a new library cat has been taken on.

Library cat Purrl Reedmoore - Grayson County Public Library, Independence, Virginia Purrl Reedmoore - Grayson County Public Library, Independence, VA Library cat Purrl Reedmoore - Grayson County Public Library, Independence, Virginia

Independence, Grayson County, Virginia

Purrl Reedmoore is a beautiful pure-white cat who arrived at the library in March 2004. She is said to prowl like a 'white ghost', and is very good with children. In 2005 local artist Kathye Mendes donated to the library an original painting of Purrl with two young readers; a competition was held to create a short story around the picture and give it a name. Purrl had a fine scrapbook page, unfortunately no longer found at the library site but saved at the Internet Archive.

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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.

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Page created July 2010 (partially from an earlier page, 2006), with later revisions and additions