Articles in Featuring Felines are written by
Patrick Roberts

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Library Cats in the UK

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Fidel, of Deal Library, Kent, UK
Fidel, regular visitor to Deal Library, Kent
Deal, Kent

Our first British library cat is not really like Dewey or others we have featured (see further links below), as he is not a resident: he just likes visiting his local library! The black feline, originally rescued from an abandoned apartment in Deal, a town on England's south coast, lives not far away from the library, but his owners go out to work during the day and he likes company, so since roughly 2007, when he was aged about six, he has been going there. He is known in the neighbourhood and also from time to time patronises a local café, a restaurant and a pub, where he is sometimes given prawns and shrimps.

At first library staff tried to put Fidel off visiting, but he is quite determined and always came back when he was put out; sometimes he even arrives before the staff in the morning and waits to be let in. They don't feed him; much of the time he sleeps all day, or sometimes does a tour of the premises or sits and watches the world go by. He has a favourite blue chair he likes to sleep in, and was quite put out on one occasion when a book fair meant the furniture was moved and he couldn't have his usual spot.

Fidel is friendly and well behaved, and staff say he is no trouble. At about 4 in the afternoon he knows his owners will be coming home, so he'll get up and leave. The library district manager says, 'Fidel certainly seems to like coming here and he's very popular with our customers.' Some people, particularly children, make special visits to see him.

In 2009 my enquiry to the library ascertained that he was still visiting regularly. Through the latter part of 2010 and into early 2011 the library was being refurbished and for periods of time closed altogether, so Fidel was seen 'about town' rather more than usual. A librarian said that he was wary of the library's new automatic doors — and, even worse, his favourite chair had been removed! He was therefore not visiting as often as before, but it was hoped that perhaps with warmer weather, and as he got used to the new arrangements, he might start to visit more regularly again.

Three images of Fidel are courtesy of lindylaine4 (© Belinda Wallace) at Flickr: they can be found together using this search link, with a little additional information included with each one.

Ziggy the cat at Shrewsbury Library, Shropshire
Ziggy the cat at Shrewsbury Library, Shropshire, UK

Rather like Fidel of Deal, Ziggy isn't a resident library cat, but in late 2013 he had for several months been making it his business to frequent the library in Shrewsbury, capital of Shropshire in the UK West Midlands. He likes to prowl around the shelves, and then curl up for a nap in the in-tray at reception; he's such a regular visitor, particularly at 'story time', that staff were considering giving him his own card. When an appeal was put out to see if he had an owner, Bethany Hinton came forward; she said, 'I knew he popped over to the nearby curtain shop, but I couldn't believe he was going to the library too.' Actually Ziggy seems to be quite the cat-about-town, as he's had to be collected from the local pub, The Vault, as well! But the library seems to be his favourite spot; he's been nicknamed 'The Professor' and has his own fan following on the library´┐Żs Twitter feed.

Since the appeal for his owner was made, and his picture and details appeared in the local paper, it's emerged that Ziggy is even more of a cat-about-town than previously thought! As well as the library and the pub, he visits a coffee shop (where they called him Basil and feed him cheese triangles), and also a new office building called the Pump House (where they called him Tait). Now everyone knows his real identity, and he's been microchipped in case his wanderings take him too far from home.

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Calling UK librarians!
There must be more cats in British libraries: so far the greatest number we know of are in America, although numbers are reducing and they're not always well documented. Do please let us know if your library has a feline assistant; or maybe as a patron you know of a cat at your local library. Send a selection of photos and some background information, and we'll consider them for inclusion.

See also

Library Cats in America
and in

Library Cats - history, society, job description, and rules

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Do you know of any other library cats?
Please contact me,

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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's no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.

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