Two cats tame their towns. This is a classic Iowa Public Television story from 1998. Dewey Readmore Books is one of two cats featured in this feature.
There’s an animal, a common domesticated species, that has somehow worked its way into the creative minds of artists, painters, dancers, and writers.
The scholarly study it, the motherly feed it warm milk, and the childish pull its tail. So much has been said about these curious creatures called cats that you might wonder what hasn't been said about them.
But we’re going to tell you about two Iowa cats that are uncommon. Two cats who’ve tamed their towns.
Librarian: "Once in a while, he likes to hide in the books. That's where he goes."
Our first fine feline is Dewey. Dewey Readmore Books, to be specific. He’s tamed the library patrons of Spencer with a personality that spans the gap from Buddha to superman.
Vicki Myron, Spencer Library: "He's good at it!"
Our other exceptional cat is Tom. He hangs his hat at Kibby’s Hardware store, but he’s Conrad’s cat.
Morgan Halgren: "I understand that Tom is the unofficial mayor of Conrad."
Rocky Hilton: "He is the mayor!"
Morgan Halgren: "Oh. He is the mayor! How's he doing?"
Rocky Hilton: "Good!"
The most extraordinary thing about these cats is that both of them love PEOPLE! Really!
Vicki about Dewey: “He's very warm, and he loves everyone.”
Mother reading to son with Dewey: "Animals that try to bite an arm, or body, might end up breaking their teeth!"
Ron Ladehoff about Tom: “He’s a lover.”
Vicki about Dewey: “There's a lot of senior citizens that come here because they can’t have pets in their apartments”
Library patron: "Are you happy here, Dewey?"
Ron about Tom: “He’s real friendly”
Vicki Myron about Dewey: “He really, really likes babies. He sits down right next to them and they'll grab his fur and he won’t move."
Ron about Tom: “Like I say, people come in just to see him, and just give him a pat on the head. And go out."
Rocky Hilton about Tom: “He’s kind of our ambassador to Main Street, I guess you'd say.”
Morgan to Dewey: "Yeah, you're a good kitty."
A loveable dog, we could understand. But cats? This I had to see for myself.
Morgan with Dewey: “He’s adjusting. I think he’s purring.”
And, of course, I couldn’t play favorites!
Morgan to Tom: “Hi, Tom, what do you think?”
Maybe these cats are different from the majority of their species because early in their lives, humans did something good for them.
Vicki Myron: "Well, we came in on a Monday morning, and we could hear a small sound. But, we couldn't identify it or where it was coming from. And we opened the book drop, and not only was it full of books, but this little tiny kitten was in there.
"He was dirty, and wet, and his foot pads were frozen and were falling off. And, you could tell he was starving.
"We took him out of there and we gave him a warm bath – more to bring him back to life than anything. And he purred. During the entire bath.
"And, we knew that he was just such a little character with a great personality.
"So, that's when we decided to ask the City Council and the Library Board if we could keep him as the library cat."
Back in Conrad, Tom had a similar sad beginning.
Ron Ladehoff: "Ralph came in one morning and it was really cold and snowing and blowing. And found this cat."
Ralph Kibby: "He was just a stray that was around town. He was so thin you could see through him."
Ron Ladehoff: "And oh, he looked tough. Says, 'Now what are we gonna do with him?' He says, 'Well, I’m gonna take him over to Steckleberg’s,' down to the vet. Ralph’s real big hearted about that. And he came back alone. I said, 'Well, what did you decide?' 'Well,' Ralph says, 'they gave him $60 worth of shots and said, well, if he’s still alive in the morning, he might have a chance.'"
Every day at the Spencer Library, Dewey entertains his public, pulling from his bag of unusual cat tricks:
· He greets Vicki every morning… with a friendly wave.
· He likes to help shelve books by lying on the cart, and this is his favorite cart, because he can adjust his seating purr-fectly.
Vicki Myron: "Get comfy."
· He loves to sleep in boxes. The smaller the box, the better.
· He also climbs ladders…
· and plays games.
Vicki Myron: "Gonna throw it!"
He’s sort of got the hang of hide and seek.
Vicki Myron: "You silly. And, he thinks he's hidden."
He’s so entertaining, being a library cat and all, that some people have even written about him in their books.
Vicki Myron: "Type in Dewey Readmore… there's a book called, 'Serendipity Stories: Cats and their People.' … And there's a drawing of Dewey laying on my shoulder."
Morgan Halgren: "And there's Vicki!"
Back in Conrad, Tom has his own set of tricks. He likes to climb on people’s shoulders and take a ride. He makes funny faces when his friends scratch him in a secret spot.
Morgan with Tom: "Yeah. Let’s see that. Do it again!"
And he has one really unusual habit.
Rocky Hilton: “He stops traffic. People watch out for him.”
Tom and Dewey: two tabbies who’ve tamed their towns. Although they live a hundred miles apart, they both live by the same general rule:
Vicki Myron: Never forget, nor let your humans forget, you own the joint.
But these Lion Kings are both the magnanimous kind. And their subjects have learned a lot from them.
Clerk at Kibbies: "Tom doesn't have many enemies. He loves everybody. He gets along with everybody. So. It makes you. feel like if he can get along with everybody you should be able to."
So the moral of the story is, if you own the joint, you may as well rub noses with everyone.