Monday, April 12, 2021

Mike: The First Cat of Massachusetts

While exploring, I was delighted to stumble upon an article that is about a couple of my favorite subjects, cats and libraries. What was even more captivating is that the cat worked in the State Library!  The December 8, 1920 issue of the Boston Post featured Mike, one of the cats that lived in the Massachusetts State House. Mike was a special cat that made an impression on everyone he encountered in this large and bustling building. 

“The story of his remarkable rise from an abandoned-for-dead alley-way kitten to the stately boss of the State House is a story that every cat at present seeking out meagre existence from garbage boxes should know and draw courage from.” 

Mike was rescued by the State House boiler inspector, Harry Morton. He was nursed back to health and found a home in the State House. The cat earned his keep by hunting and killing the rodents that also occupied this historic building.  

Mike was known to roam the halls and visit all of the departments. Even Governor Calvin Coolidge enjoyed Mike’s company, as the cat would often curl up and sleep on the rug next to the Governor’s feet as he was working at his desk. Whenever Governor Coolidge was away, Mike kept his seat warm and would hold down the official chair. State House staff figured that Mike knew when Governor Coolidge was away and thought it was his responsibility to take the helm.

One day Mike got into a brawl with a very overbearing black cat, and this battle caused quite a stir in the State House. 

“Bits of black fur strewed the marble corridors of the State House, but the cat they came from was seen no more.”  

Then came a threat on Mike's life. The Sergeant-at-Arms of the State House decided there should be no more cats and ordered Mike killed. Despair fell upon Mike's many foster parents in the engine room. Finally, it was decided that Engineer Thompson should take Mike home.

“Word reached the library. Down came the librarian in fury. The State House simply could not get along without Mike. Since his arrival not a single book has had to be rebound. No rat or mouse lived long enough to set tooth in the precious tomes that contained the State's records. Mike had seen to that. Previously hundreds of dollars had to be spent in repairing books.”

The librarian saved the cat’s life, so Mike stayed! On his sixth anniversary with the State House, the engineers presented him with a collar on which was engraved, "Mike--State House."

Hopefully, Mike lived a long life and continued to help the librarians out with his special skills. If you want to read more interesting articles about Massachusetts history, the library will soon be getting and to complement its collections. We will let you know soon when these databases are available and give you more details. If you have any questions, please email us at

This article was clipped from the Boston Post, Boston MA- December 8, 1920, Wednesday, Page 7.

Coming soon to the State Library! 

Dava Davainis
Head of Reference and Information Services