One day in 2001, a taped up box was dropped at the doorstep of Little Rock Animal Services (LRAS). Inside was a one year-old black cat with extra toes. This cat had no name, just an ID number assigned by LRAS (LRAS064241A). Susan Loesch saw the cat’s picture on the shelter website. The grainy picture at least captured his personality as he stood in his cage. He held his head high, with a red paper collar around his neck. It looked like he was saying “Here I am. Why haven’t you come to get me?”
Susan rescued the black cat with extra toes to foster him for adoption. She named him Big Footsie because she recognized early on that he was big of heart (and feet). His feet are big because each foot has an extra toe. Cats with extra toes are called polydactyl. Big Footsie soon proved to be a mischievous cat. He liked to get on top of the curtain rods and make them bounce. By the time Footsie had lived with Susan for just a couple of weeks, she had fallen in love.
Susan also knew Footsie would be a perfect Library Cat, so she adopted him. Big Footsie became assistant to Piper the original Library Cat for the Arkansas School for the Blind (ASB) where Susan worked as School Librarian. Big Footsie came to school with Susan and Piper. He learned his duties from Piper and made many friends. He learned that Library Cats get treats and he took to his new life with enthusiasm. All his mom had to do was get his carrier and call “Let’s go to school, Big Footsie” and he went right into his carrier. One day Piper decided he would rather stay home and sleep rather than come to school to work. Fortunately, Big Footsie thought being Library Cat was the cat's pajamas. He became the Head Library Cat at ASB.
Big Footsie became the leader in the Accelerated Reader (AR) program. He would choose books that become “Footsie’s Favorites”. He attended the AR assemblies to cheer his kids on. Students who passed enough “Footsie’s Favorites” quizzes got to have their picture taken with him or one of his assistants (yes, Big Footsie had staff). Big Footsie became the AR Reading Motivator and he encouraged students to read many books. Footsie also helped students working on their computers and he assisted with checking books in and out.
Knocking down books on the front desk became a daily duty for Big Footsie. Once knocked down he would push the books off the shelf onto the floor. This was usually accompanied by shouts of “Good Job, Big Footsie!” Meeting new students and welcoming them to ASB and the Library was also an important job for Footsie. Nothing like purrs and a head bump makes a new student feel at home.
Big Footsie was born for Halloween. He had his own pair of batwings and walked the halls of ASB wearing them. He looked as if he could fly when he perched atop a tombstone. Of course, like any trick-or-treater, he expected to get treats.
On other holidays Footsie had special bandanas: red, white and blue for July 4th, shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, pink with animal print hearts for Valentine’s Day.
Big Footsie liked to celebrate birthdays, but he was not very fond of wearing birthday hats. Footsie’s exact birthday was not known except that it was in 2000. It became custom to celebrate his birthday on his adoption day, August 15.
For Christmas Footsie and the other Library Cats visited Santa to have their picture taken. Big Footsie even had his own Christmas party called “Big Footsie Annual Library Cat Christmas. Footsie and his assistants all attended