Cat Prevails Over Anti-Cat Patron

SWANSEA, Mass. - An outpouring of support for Penny the cat, the unofficial mascot of the Swansea Public Library, has led a Massachusetts man to give up his efforts to evict the cat from the public building.

Patrick Higgins sent an email to Swansea Public Library trustees last Saturday, which said he would file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice if Penny was not removed from the premises. According to Higgins, people allergic to cats would be unable to use the library which meant the public building did not comply with the American Disabilities Act.

As news of Penny’s potential eviction spread, supporters for the neighborhood cat began to rally creating petitions to keep the Penny on the premises. One petition on has elicited nearly 1,800 signatures.


Let us change some facts in this story.

An anti-gay director is keeping out of the library a gay member of the community. 1,800 people in the community sign a petition that the gay person should be kept out.

Why do we care about petitions? I assume in the scenario above I could find many people that would say "Heck with the petition" no matter how many people signed it.

Let us go back to the cat scenario. Assuming that an individual has a allergy bad enough that they cannot use the library if there is a cat around. What logic are we using for the exclusion of this individual from the library? Because 1,800 people that signed a petition wanted it that way?

No one is excluded.

there are people that have allergic reactions that an antihistamine will not work for. but hey those people are expendable.

Methinks the cat disliker doth protest too much.

So someone with an allergy is a "hater"?

I don't understand why there are people that feel there HAVE to be cats in a library.

Another points in regards to the antihistamine. If I charged people even a dollar to use the library there would be librarians that would disagree with that. I wonder if those same librarians would think it is ok to require people to purchase medicine to use the library.

Maybe there is another middle ground between "no cat" and "you have to take medicine to use the library". Why let the cat roam the whole library. If you have to have a cat in the library why not contain it to one room?

One common aspect of our culture that I simply don't understand is the notion that tolerance means you must allow the things I support, but can't expect that I will accord your beliefs or experiences the same respect. Because I like cats, tolerance obviously requires that you put up with cats. If you disagree for any reason, that means you are intolerant and a hater.

I would appreciate people on this site showing respect and maturity in our comments.

(Full disclosure: I have a cat. I also have friends who are allergic and/or don't like cats. When they visit, I remove my cat from the rooms where they will be. They know I have a cat, and take whatever precautions they need to take before coming to my house. That has been enough to allow my allergic friends to visit without undue discomfort. Mutual respect.)

I love cats. My husband loves cats, but is horribly allergic to them. We can't own them because of that - I'm not sure they have a place in a public building. OR Perhaps if it's restricted to certain areas. But to tell someone to take medication is a horrible answer to the issue. For one thing it doesn't always prevent an allergy reaction.

So - if 1,800 sign a petition that we should allow every one to view explicit sexual movies, do we do that? 1,800 sign a petition that we have topless Tuesdays?

I think the issue goes back to city/state ordinances and if it's not prohibited then go from there. But the person against it has every right to be against it!! Just like those in favor of it do, too...

Do you allow patrons to bring in pets? If not, why not?

Yay! Massachusetts Library Cat Can Stay (Buck Up, Allergic Kids)

One of the comments at the site with this story:

I'll throw my hat in with the rest of the buzzkills. My allergies can be severe enough that 20 minutes around the wrong cat and my eyes will swell shut, I have difficulty breathing and my skin feels like it's on fire. The apartment I'm in now had two cats in it before I moved in and the landlord had to have the place professionally cleaned before I could stay indoors a whole evening. When a cat lives somewhere it embeds allergens EVERYWHERE, you can't even walk away for the cat because it's probably rubbed up against everything else.

Maybe the person with the allergy should get a Kindle.

I read a suggestion that maybe a bookstore in the town would be willing to take in the cat so it is not in the public library. Taking a thought from the Kindle suggestion and the bookstore suggestion. Maybe Amazon should adopt the cat.

Jeff Bezos could strike a Dr. Evil pose with the cat.

Why should my tax dollars pay for a building, collection, and staff to a place that I cannot enter? If I can't go there then why am I forced to pay for it? If you want cats in your library then build and pay for it yourself.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.