Max the Cat: Banned from the Library But Not Our Hearts

Posted by Allie Layos
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Some felines like dozing in the windowsill, but Max the cat just wants to be in the library. 

A resident of St. Paul, Minn., Max the cat was lucky, because he lived right across the street from the Macalester College Library. But when he was banned from the establishment, by way of a hilariously worded sign, he became an Internet sensation, and the poster animal for the importance of reading.

Though Max is now three years old, he spent his early life roaming the streets, and that instinct has never really left him.

He was adopted about a year ago by Connie Lipton, whose husband teaches religious studies at Macalester. In an interview with the Washington Post, Lipton said that Max made it very clear that he wanted to continue roaming, so they let him.

Won't you let me in? On campus somewhere before he was grounded

A post shared by Max the Cat and Gracie (@cool_cat_max_and_gracie) on

He made friends all across campus, attending reunions, hanging out with Frisbee-playing students and even attending classes in the science building and the Spanish and Portuguese department.

"We've had multiple calls because his phone number is on his tag," Lipton said. "He's a funny guy. He loves people. He loves to socialize -- with groups."

But the trouble started when Max began venturing into the library.

Oops Max was caught on camera as he sneaked into the library about a month ago

A post shared by Max the Cat and Gracie (@cool_cat_max_and_gracie) on

This is how one librarian described it:

In addition to Max causing problems for students coming and going, there were other concerns as well. One of the library employees is extremely allergic to cats, and people also worried that one day Max would get locked inside the library when it closed. That's when the original handwritten sign was posted, announcing Max's banishment from the library.

Christopher Schommer, artist and library employee who is usually in charge of signage, had been on parental leave for 12 weeks, during which time he had done a lot of reading with his toddler daughter. When he spotted the sign upon his return, he got to work creating a new version.

"I spent 10 minutes making the sign and writing it like I was telling it to my three-and-a-half-year-old," he said.

The updated sign was quickly shared on Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit and Max skyrocketed to Internet fame.

The cat illustration Schommer used had come from The Noun Project, an online collection of free symbols and icons. After the sign went viral, Schommer contacted the artist, Gamze Genc Celik, about turning the sign into a children's book.

"I'm sure 200 people are also doing the same thing," Schommer said.

They were certainly sharing rhymes worthy of one:

@relsqui wrote this sweet poem about Max's library story on twitter

A post shared by Max the Cat and Gracie (@cool_cat_max_and_gracie) on

Others actually created a library card for Max:

And many made puns in his defense.

"Discrimination against cats. I'm Max's lawyer and he is filing a catsuit," one Reddit user posted, which prompted others to offer edits: clawsuit, pawsuit, gnawsuit, littergation.

But the sign that sparked all this fun has since been taken down, because Max's roaming privileges have been revoked due to a major construction project on campus. Much to his dismay he now ventures outside on a red harness and leash.

Lipton said:

"He's going crazy. He cries and howls and paces around, looking out the windows. I'm really hoping he takes to walking on the leash. Then I can just walk him over there and he can still see his peeps and have his social life."

But that hasn't stopped the Internet from loving him. Max's Instagram account (which he shares with his "sister" Gracie) had 135 followers the day before the Washington Post article was published. By midday the following day it had grown to 2,400. Today it has over 16,000.

In the future Lipton may have Max trained as a therapy cat so that he continue to please the crowds. But for now he has found another calling: helping bring awareness to the importance of reading!

He may not be the library cat anymore, but book store cat is almost as good.

What do you think of Max's story? Share your thoughts below!

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Max the Cat: Banned from the Library But Not Our Hearts