I just finished reading Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, a cute book by Vicki Myron about a cat who was adopted by the library in Spencer, Iowa. He lived his whole life there, greeting patrons when they entered, riding around on book carts, exploring bookshelves, munching on the stray rubber band. (The book is kind of the feline equivalent of the bestseller Marley & Me by John Grogan.)
The Habitat for Humanity Restore where I volunteer (see previous post) doesn’t have a lot in common with a library, which by necessity is a model of orderliness and organization. A friend who worked at a library once told me “an incorrectly shelved book is a lost book.” Because we get such a variety of stuff in such varying quantities, it’s proven to be quite impossible to keep our shelves organized.
In a library people speak in hushed tones and whispers. At the Restore, we frequently have to holler to make ourselves heard over the forklift that hauls piles of tiles and bins of bricks around the store.
Whereas a library is typically a fairly clean place, one of my co-volunteers once commented, “this is the only place where I wash my hands before I use the bathroom.”
Surely the stereotype of libraries being run by no-nonsense, efficient librarians is at least partially true. These are not people who might forget to feed the feline for a week at a time. On the other hand, we’re staffed largely by volunteers who drift in and out, based on court ordered community service hours for assorted offenses. They’re joined by the occasional high school student needing service hours for the National Honor Society. (It makes for an interesting mix of people.)
Like a library, the Restore is a fun place to explore, but unlike a library, it’s largely characterized by chaos, dirt, disorder, noise, and instability.
So it stood to reason that a Restore cat was probably not in our future.
(Not that we’re without friends from the animal world. People regularly bring their dogs with them when they come to shop. The occasional bird has flitted about in our rafters. We’ve seen evidence of vermin in deep storage recesses. And a crew of feral cats has been spotted behind the fence at the edge of our parking lot.)
But as I was meandering about the floor yesterday I spotted a stuffed cat. I refer to a plush toy, not an actual stuffed cat. (Which would certainly be unusual, but as I mentioned before, we do get a little bit of everything.) This little fellow was great. He was sitting on a sofa in the furniture area. He looked amazingly lifelike. (Most plush cats fail to capture the rather ethereal spirit of a feline.) He had a sensor in him that caused him to meow, purr, wag his tail, or turn his head at seemingly random moments. He really made a person do a double take. So we decided this should be our resident cat.
Whereas Dewey was unceremoniously dumped in the book drop one cold winter night, this cat appeared unannounced on a couch in the furniture area. So there’s certainly the chance that some sweet young lass is going to come in claiming she inadvertently left him. Or someone determined to have this feline will make us an offer too good to refuse. But in the meantime, we’ve got ourselves a low maintenance, high impact kitty.