Glendale's cat book collection moving to the Feline Historical Museum

Eighty boxes from Glendale's cat book collection are headed to the Feline Historical Museum in Ohio

Glendale's unwanted collection of cat books has found a new home — the Feline Historical Museum in Ohio, which features a cat house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a ribbon from an 1896 British cat show and hundreds of cat figurines.

Eighty boxes of books and periodicals from Glendale's collection are being prepped to ship to the 5,000-square-foot museum in the coming weeks.

The planned move comes more than a year after Glendale librarians began removing thousands of cat-related items from the Central Library's Special Collections room to make space for works linked to the city's own history.

Feline fans criticized the change, but the cat collection was barely being used, librarians said.

In its heyday, it was the largest in the country — with more than 4,000 items at its height — and attracted serious researchers from as far away as Europe. But the rise of cat-breeding websites and online forums dimmed the collection's popularity.

Librarians put some books into storage and posted others on Amazon.

When Reggie Perry, whose mother kick-started the cat collection in the mid-1960s, heard it may be broken up, she was stunned.

"I really freaked out when they said, 'Sell it on Amazon' because it's so hard to collect all that stuff and then just get rid of it that way," said Perry, a Glendale resident.

Her mother, Sidney Roberta Billig, who founded the now-defunct Jewel City Cat Club and judged cat shows, would have preferred the collection stay together, Perry said.

Around the same time that Perry heard about the collection's end, representatives of the Cat Fanciers' Assn. Foundation, which owns the Feline Historical Museum, contacted the library. They wanted everything Glendale had — roughly 1,400 books, including breeding books and lighter fare, such as "How to Talk to Your Cat" and "Costumes for Your Cat," and a multitude of cat periodicals, some dating to 1903.

The collection includes issues of "PURRRRR! The Newsletter for Cat Lovers," from 1982 to 1990, and "Siamese News Quarterly," from 1965 to 1996.

"This cat stuff, it's just a miracle that there's anywhere that could have wanted it all," said Perry, who agreed to cover shipping costs.

Museum officials are eager to get their hands on the collection. When the new items arrive, their library will grow to 5,000 books, said curator Karen Lawrence, probably making it the world's largest cat collection.

Visitors have come from as far away as Germany and Brazil to see the museum's collectibles and to learn about cat history, Lawrence said.

"There are cat lovers everywhere," she said.

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