Library Cat Fired, Pitting Cat-Lovers Against Cat-Haters In North Texas Town
A library cat was fired by city council vote in the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement, North Texas, on June 14, 2016, pitting residents against each other. The city council voted to remove Browser, a former shelter cat, from the public library because “City Hall and city businesses are no place for animals,” according to council member Elzie Clements.
Mayor Ron White blamed “pettiness at City Hall” as the reason behind the library cat being fired and given until July 14 to find a new home. Like the mayor, many believe the impending removal of Browser to be a retaliatory act
According to ABC News, White Settlement‘s governing council voted 2-1 to give the library 30 days to find a new home for Browser the cat. Council member Clements moved at the council meeting for the tabby’s removal from the library where it has been a fixture for six years. Mayor White, who has no vote on the council, called the vote that got the cat fired a “tit-for-tat” after a city employee wasn’t allowed to bring a puppy to work at City Hall.
Bustle reports that more than 800 supporters have signed an online petition to help keep the library cat at his post where he had a job dealing with a mouse problem. Mayor White has called for another meeting on July 12, based on the belief that the council just went out and got Browser fired “because they don’t like cats.”
Mayor White hopes to save the library cat’s position with a new vote to get him un-fired. Failing that, the mayor and his constituents plan to carry the fight for Browser to November when Clements will be up for re-election.
According to the Huffington Post, Lillian Blackburn, president of Friends of the White Settlement Public Library, said the cat was specifically adopted to help keep down the rodent population. Blackburn added that several people who learned of Browser’s being fired from his job have offered to take him.
“I don’t think there’ll be any problem finding a home for Browser, but he will not have a home like this.”
Though Browser is a big draw at the library for kids, the council has gone ahead and fired him, totally ignoring his being a quirky asset. He even possesses an uncanny ability to detect if someone is a cat person, Blackburn said.
“He’s there if you want him to be there. And if you don’t want him to touch you or go near you, he doesn’t.”
Libraries having cat residents is an old tradition. The most famous library cat is Dewey Readmore Books, who lived in Iowa’s Spencer Public Library for 19 years. He fired up writers’ imaginations, leading to a number of books written about him after his death.
Gary Roma, a documentarian who produced a film entitled Puss in Books: Adventures of the Library Cat, studied and recorded the lives of library cats. On Roma’s website, over 800 library cats are cataloged worldwide, though many of them have since been fired into the hereafter.
The association between the library and its resident cat goes as far back as when Herodotus wrote of animals, likely cats, trained to stop snakes and rodents from sneaking into Egyptian temples and destroying papyrus rolls. Tasty manuscripts in medieval monasteries were also said to have been protected by cats from hungry rats. Even Russian Empress Elisabeth fired up a decree bringing cats into her court in 1745, and their descendants now guard precious works at the State Hermitage museum. In the 19th century, the British government subsidized libraries for cats protecting books from rodents.
Browser supporter Blackburn said only one family has come forward to complain about an allergy around the cat. But library staff solved the problem by allowing family members to call ahead so that the cat could go elsewhere while they were around.
Apparently, there was no need at all to get Browser fired.
[Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]