BY ANNA WONDRASEK
Even though not everyone has seen it, the news has been spreading across campus. People have been catching glimpses of a cat living in the bushes outside of Hubbell Dining Hall. And even if it hasn’t made an appearance, people have been making box houses and leaving food out for it. Occasionally, people will even climb through the bushes, searching for the cat in hopes of catching it.
“As far as I know, my friends and I were the first to find him on Oct. 22,” Lauren Frey, a sophomore musical theatre major, said. “He was wandering around near Helmick Commons, and we accidentally chased him into the Hubbell bushes where he seems to call home now. We were attempting to go see “Rocky Horror,” and we spent too long trying to catch him, so we named him Rocky.”
Frey said “Rocky” looks very young, perhaps only a few months old. Because only about 20 percent of orange cats are female, there is about an 80 percent chance that Rocky is male. He has long hair, and he is very chatty, responding when he is meowed at. Frey is concerned Rocky looks malnourished, and it is for this reason that she and her friends went out and bought him canned food when they were unable to coax him out from under the bushes. Food seemed to be the trick, because Frey said Rocky even let her pet him.
“My laying there, I think, alerted a lot of people to the fact he was there,” Frey said.
Olivia George, a sophomore biology and environmental science double major, and her friends were some of those people.
“We’ve been trying to catch it since we first saw it but have so far been unsuccessful,” George said. “It’s not too fond of humans, but we’ve been leaving him food as have many other people. If you’re patient, the cat will come out of the bushes and stare at you for a while.”
The fact that so many people have been leaving food for the cat concerns Frey, because “(he is) so young and malnourished for so long, all that food would surely make him sick.”
Because not everyone who has seen or attempted to interact with the cat is certain to be a cat owner, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa recommended caution when approaching an unfamiliar cat.
“Don’t just approach the cat and attempt to pet it, you don’t know if it has been vaccinated,” an ARL representative said. “Also, do not feed it any human food. If you feel that feeding it is absolutely necessary, you should buy cat food.”
If people are concerned about the cat, since it is getting cold out and such a young cat could be negatively impacted, the representative suggested that students call the ARL at (515) 473-9101 for information on how to help.
Otherwise, if it is an outdoor or community cat, she said he will be fine on his own and might even have a cat colony to return to. Most importantly, the representative stressed that the cat’s space be respected. Like a person, cats need their personal space and will make it known if they are being crowded. If this cat has not been vaccinated, it can spread diseases that are dangerous to humans as well as animals, and so above all caution is key, according to the ARL.