“There are , 809 library cats worldwide
664 of which are in the U.S, as well as
507 past felines.”
The relationship between cats and libraries
is centuries old. The association relates back
to ancient times when Herodotus described the
existence of libraries in Egyptian temples. During
this period, some animals were given special
training to prevent rodents and serpents from
infiltrating temples in an effort to preserve
Some 1,500 years after cats were first domesticated,
in 3rd century BC Egypt, the Library of Alexandria
was constructed, it served as the nation’s epicenter
of scholarship and cats played a central role in its
Pestis, a sub-librarian whose job was to sort
and organize thousands of manuscripts, most
of which were unlabeled and hard to identify
due to the nibbling of rogue mice.
One day, a small cat approached him, sat by his
side for several hours, and followed him back to
the library. The smitten Petsis named his new
friend Myeo, and he became the world’s first
Almost immediately, Myeo went about eradicating
the pesky mice, and helping to preserve the
manuscripts and soon, Petsis had enlisted a
small army of like-minded cats to join him.
In ancient Egypt, cats were a symbol of wisdom;
surely enough, Petsis’ new felines encouraged
a stroke of genius. As he recorded the “kills” of
each cat on scraps of papyrus, he found himself
left with a disorganized mess of names. His solution
led to the first recorded instance of alphabetization.
“One evening, Petsis realized that if he put the scraps
in alphabetical order by each cat’s name he would be
able to find, and update, each record more rapidly.
Shortly thereafter, he realized that he could apply
the same principle to the organization of the scrolls.
Thus, it appears, that Petsis, with a major assist from
Myeo, was responsible for the introduction of
alphabetization for organization, classification,
Monastic records from the Middle Ages indicate
cats were utilized in medieval monasteries to stop
rats from eating expensive manuscripts. In 1745,
Russian Empress Elisabeth published an order to
transport cats to her court. The descendents of
these cats now patrol the State Hermitage museums.
Under the directive of Empress Elizabeth, cats were
employed to roam the halls of Russia’s Hermitage
Museum library. “Find the best and biggest cats,
capable of catching mice,” she ordered in 1745,
“and send them by cart with sufficient food immediately.”
During the nineteenth century, the British
government compensated libraries housing
cats that kept rodents away from book.
In 19th century Britain, librarians were paid
extra to employ cats as a natural form of
Records of cats in American libraries date back
at least 150 years.
In 1987, Phyllis Lahti, a librarian in Minnesota,
started the Library Cat Society. Her goals were
twofold: to encourage the integration of cats at
libraries, and to tout the advantages of a “feline
literary presence” catching . For years, Lahti produced
a little-known newsletter and attempted to compile
a list of all known library cats in the United States.
The Library Cat Society, was established in
1987 to encourage the establishment, respect,
and recognition of library cats. The society included
dozens of member libraries that exchanged
information about their cats, and published a
newsletter about them.
The late 1990s, Gary Roma tell : “I was doing research
in a library for another project, and in the Encyclopedia
of Associations, I came across a listing for the Library
Cat Society. So, I went through an archive of all the past
newsletters, came up with list of library cats, and went
on a road trip from Massachusetts to North Dakota to
document all the library cats I could find.”
Israeli Library Cat “Israel” in a library in
The ongoing relationship of cats and libraries has been
chronicled in the anthology Cats, Librarians, and Libraries:
Essays for and About the Library Cat Society. The lives of
library cats were explored by Gary Roma, a documentarian
who produced a film entitled Puss in Books: Adventures of
the Library Cat.
Dewey Readmore Books is perhaps the most famous
library cat. He lived in Iowa’s Spencer Public Library
for 19 years.
After his death, a book was published about him.
Spencer Public Library, Iowa:
Dewey’s home for 19 years.
Dewey Readmore Books was the resident cat at Spencer
Public Library. He was put in the book return one cold
January night in 1988. When the staff found him the
next morning, they decided to adopt him. After the library’s
board of trustees and the city council approved, the kitten was
declawed, neutered, and given the proper vaccinations.
A contest was held to pick a name, and Dewey Readmore
Books was officially added to the staff.
Dewey was a video star in “Puss in Books”, a documentary
about library cats. Of course, Dewey was already the star of
the library. Many people came in just to see him.
Dewey even had his own job description.
Dewey passed away on November 29, 2006 ,he had
become very frail because of hyperthyroid disease for
which he was receiving medication. Although Dewey is
gone, he will be remembered by thousands of people
whom he cheered by simply being a loving presence in
the library. Although we may get another library cat,
Dewey will never be replaced. The library won’t be
the same without Dewey.
Dewey’s memory lives on. He is an official member of
the Library Cat Society and was a contributing author
on several occasions using Vicki Myron, the library director,
as his scribe. Vicki has written an adult book about her life
with Dewey at Spencer Public Library, published September
24th, 2008.Dewey Readmore Books, the Famous Library Cat.
Dewey made sure to keep up his library duties ,
which were listed on a placard in the his “study”
at the back of the building:
- Reducing stress for all humans who pay attention to him. 2. Sitting by the front
- door every morning at 9:00 am to greet the public as they enter the library. 3.
- Sampling all boxes that enter the library for security problems and comfort level.
- Attending all meetings in the Round Room as official library ambassador.
- Providing comic relief for staff and visitors whenever possible.
- 6. Climbing in book bags and briefcases while patrons are studying.
- 7. Generating free national and worldwide publicity for Spencer Public Library.
- (This entails sitting still for photographs, smiling for the camera, and generally
- being cute.)
- 8. Working toward status as world’s most finicky cat by refusing all but the most
- expensive, delectable foods — and even turning up his nose at those most of the time.
A Quick Guide to Library Cats
Ellyssa Kroski — January 9, 2014
Library cat – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dewey Readmore Books, the Famous Library Cat
(c) All rights reserved to Victoria Sara Dazin.