Meeting a celebrity
I entered the White Settlement library carefully, assuming an air of casual purpose. Nooooo, I wasn’t there to see a celebrity cat. I was there for library business. But there he was, right there in front of me! Browser strode across the library, on his way from the children’s section to the new releases.
I dropped my stuff and froze for a moment. Should I grab my phone and ask him for a selfie? Too crass? I kept an eye on a cluster of industrious librarians busy sanitizing stacks of children’s books one by one, preventing a nasty flu season. They barely noticed me. Browser groupies must show up all the time.
Browser wore a plaid collar with a bow tie at a rakish angle. A debonair fashion choice? Or simply forgetting to straighten it after he scratched his ear? I guessed the latter. Browser is a cat constantly in motion, and it’s a challenge taking his photo. This is a cat who doesn’t pose. The pictures of him looking over his shoulder? He’s not ignoring me, he’s keeping an eye on nonfiction.
A gifted cat
Plucked from a shelter in 2010, Browser was on the front lines from day one. His job: keep the library clean. No rodents allowed. Rats and mice consider books a delicacy. Keeping freeloading pests away is paramount. I asked Browser about his particular skillset, but he was discreet. I did notice, however, the tufts of fur at the tips of his ears — Maine Coon ancestry? That would explain his mousing expertise. Maine Coons are known for being mousers. Legend has it that a Maine Coon cat shares bloodlines with the Norwegian Forest Cats who were brought over to protect the food stores on ships sailing to the New World. Maine Coons are big, friendly, calm, and natural hunters.
Browser’s talents became apparent to his coworkers immediately, and he was quickly promoted through the ranks of the library staff. Looking for a certain book? Browser will help you find it! Can’t find the periodicals? Browser will lead the way! This hardworking Texan babysits kids, patrols the perimeter, and helps keep the card catalog warm. Yes, he realizes he’s a celebrity. Who cares? There’s work that needs doing. This is a cat with all his paws on the ground. Or the library floor.
A storm of controversy
A few years ago a member of the town council apparently put forth the idea that wasn’t it about time for Browser to settle into a forever home? What if some little kid gets allergic to him?
Whaaaaa?!?!? Browser, FIRED? Let go? There was immediate backlash.
Browser’s Facebook page went into overdrive. The entire internet unleashed its wrath on the town council. The unforgiving law of the internet: you really don’t want to mess with cats. 2100 emails from every country around the world arrived, demanding that Browser not only remain a member of staff, but be offered a permanent position with benefits.
The council looked in depth at Browser’s service to his community. He teaches kids to read. He’s earned his GED because he attended all the classes along with other graduates. Is it any wonder that Browser got his permanent position?
It’s old mews to Browser
As far as Browser is concerned, all of that is ancient history. He’s got a job to do. But I told him he’s a working class hero. Hero to his community and hero to cats around the world who also dream of learning how to read and having libraries of their own.
Browser was happy to spend a few minutes saying hello to me, but I’m pretty sure he got sick of the fawning. He stretched and walked away. Work to do, work to do. Never enough hours in the day. He strode off into the depths of the library, and I went through my photos, wishing I had captured a better one of him. I wished I had forgone humiliation and thrown myself on the library floor to get that selfie.
As I was leaving, Browser ran back to me to walk me out. I noticed what I hadn’t on my way in: his photo is on the door. “This Library is patrolled by Browser the Library Cat: Watch for cat crossings.”
Browser, you are a very good boy.