Mystery unraveled

By Eric Norwood Jr.

CNJ staff writer

Margaret Hinchee and her staff at Clovis-Carver Public Library lived out a true mystery novel in the past week. In the mystery, there were police, stakeouts, traps, and surveillance cameras.

All for a cat.

“We think he snuck in sometime last week. He was here about five to seven days,” Hinchee said.

Courtesy photo: Scott Jones Surveillance video from the library shows “Bootsie” walking across the library Tuesday evening.

Courtesy photo: Scott Jones
Surveillance video from the library shows “Bootsie” walking across the library Tuesday evening.

The cat, since named Bootsie by the staff, was first seen last week by a custodian, who tipped off Hinchee. Hinchee and her staff then began to find clues around the library, such as soil in potted plants being pawed through, and territorial marks (pee).

This invoked a cathunt that lasted until Tuesday night.

“We set a trap with salmon inside and didn’t arm our security system. We left at 9 p.m. and came back at 9:30. He was sitting in the cage,” Hinchee said. Security footage showed that five minutes after the library detective team had left, the cat came out to eat.

The black and gray cat with white paws had tripped alarms by setting off motion sensors, which in turn led to calls to Hinchee from the library’s alarm system each night from Jan. 24-26. On the first day, police and Hinchee showed up at 3 a.m. and stayed for an hour and a half to search the premises.

“We thought maybe a homeless person might have hid out in the building,” said Hinchee.

Searches continued throughout the next day with no avail. On Monday, Hinchee and her staff checked video footage, which showed that there was indeed a cat inside the building.

The staff believes Bootsie may have been hiding in a plant display near the library lobby.

“We found spots where he had dug up dirt from the plants,” said Jessica Vienneau, a library employee who was involved in the search.

Vienneau described her investigating experience.

“We were looking for clues. I even dug my hands in the dirt to see if he had used the bathroom,” said Vienneau with a laugh.

Bootsie has a temporary new home with library employee Mary Mattimore, a self-professed animal lover.

“I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep him yet,” said Mattimore, “but he does have a vet appointment coming up. We’re going to spay or neuter him.”

No one knows Bootsie’s gender yet, as library staff have been cautious in handling the cat because he is feral.

Hinchee said while she is happy the cat was found, she is a little disappointed the adventure is over.

“We were like real detectives, doing stakeouts and setting traps. It was kind of exciting,” said Hinchee with a grin.

All for a cat.