DON’T MESS WITH WOODBURY, CT: The Story of Fred the Cat
Rob Zombie should take notice- When Woodbury residents believe in something, they succeed. Anybody remember Fred the cat? Rewind to 1976, a stray cat wandered from the Woodbury local Police Department to the Woodbury Public Library. Fred was a black and white cat who made her (Yes! Fred is a girl) home in the Children’s Department of the library. She had a cardboard box and according to the Woodbury Library website became a local celebrity with the town’s families.
But of course, every party has a pooper and this pooper’s name was Phyllis Delaney. She wrote to the First Selectman of the time, Elizabeth A. Adams, and complained that because of her cat allergies, she couldn’t go the library. She wanted Fred gone. At this point, Fred had been calling the library home for eight years. Not only did she have issues with allergies, she claimed to suffer from ailurophobia, which is the fear of felines.
The library tried to reason with the woman. They offered to have books sent to her home. That didn’t fly. They said they would keep the cat away from her whenever she visited- That didn’t satisfy her either. She initiated some letter writing campaign that reached the desk of the Governor. While all this was happening, the story of Fred the Cat started to make national news. Fred was featured in People Magazine, New York Times and gained tremendous television coverage. Much like what Rob Zombie and his wife will be dealing with their opposition of a local skate park, the locals rose together to save Fred. The town’s children and adults alike created petitions to keep the cat in the library.
After investigation by town attorneys, they found there was nothing illegal about having a cat live in the library. The Library Board of Trustees voted to have Fred continue living in her cardboard box in the Children’s section of the library. Delaney complained that she received “obscene, filthy phone calls” and car-bomb threats during the ordeal.
Fred died in 1986, she was 15-years-old and will forever will be remembered fondly by the community. Unfortunately, there are no records as to what happened to Delaney.
Photo credit: Woodbury Library