A legend has left us.
A memorial ceremony is planned. The shirts are sold. People all over the world are posting tributes online and thousands of people are responding and liking the posts.
Few achieve that kind of fame in life and adulation in death. But UCLA’s beloved stray – Powell Cat – did it.
The cat, who used his pronouns, according to the official Powell Cat Instagram page, died Thursday at the age of 10, ascending to kitten heaven, leaving behind fans and earthly friends mourning the loss of a pillar of the campus. The cat lived at the university for years, with the first known photos dating back to 2015.
“Rest in peace, Powell Cat,” tweeted UCLA’s official page.
Powell Cat was such a feature of campus life at UCLA that the school sold shirts depicting the black-and-white stray cat, and campus tour guides mentioned the furry feline when guiding prospective students. at college.
“People have called Powell Cat the informal mascot of UCLA,” said Kathy Brown, assistant to the academic librarian at the UCLA library and primary staff guardian of Powell Cat since 2020. Brown, who works at the library of research Charles E. Young, came to campus every day during the pandemic and took on the responsibility of feeding Powell Cat and ensuring the friendly cat was safe and cared for.
The cat first lived near their namesake Powell Library. Around two years later, Powell Cat ventured onto the brick steps of Glorya Kaufman Hall, where they could be found enjoying the sun or playing with toys or catnip brought by friends. and admirers. Powell Cat was known to be incredibly human friendly, cuddling hundreds of different students.
A student told Brown after the cat’s death that he heard about Powell Cat when he applied to UCLA. The first thing he did when he arrived on campus was to go visit Powell Cat. The stray was there, waiting for him at Kaufman Hall.
“Some of my fondest memories, shared by many students, are [Powell Cat] crawling on your knees and getting comfortable and you had to be somewhere but you couldn’t leave because Powell Cat. Cat Powell does [students] late to many 8 a.m. classes,” Brown said.
The last time Brown saw Powell Cat, a week ago, her legs fell asleep because Powell Cat had been on them for so long.
As well as looking after Powell Cat, Brown was also responsible for the cat’s Instagram meme page, where 15,600 fans who follow @powellcatofficial could expect updates and photos of the cat – whose account is naturally listed as a “public figure”.
“If you see the cat, you post it to your Insta story,” said Navkaram Gurm, who went to UCLA until 2021. “It’s UCLA tradition. There’s a lot of tradition attached to the chat share.
Although the cat is already a popular figure at UCLA, the pandemic and social media hype has certainly contributed to their widespread fame, Brown said.
“There is no competition with a cat on the Internet. From the very beginning. Cats and the Internet go hand in hand,” Brown said.
The cat’s death has led some students to appeal to the school to establish a physical memorial – perhaps with a statue that would immortalize the cat.
“Everyone really wants a Powell Cat statue,” said Phoebe Chiu, a fourth-year student at UCLA who serves as facilities commissioner for the undergraduate student association. Counseling in college.
Chiu remembered hearing about Powell Cat from her first day on campus.
“I don’t think I ever thought of UCLA without Powell Cat,” she said.
She has seen the cat dozens of times and has also petted the stray a few times.
Building a statue on campus — or perhaps a painting or mural — has to go through the college’s Byzantine bureaucracy, starting with public comments Tuesday night from students to gauge how the student body wants to commemorate the cat. An official memorial is scheduled for Thursday evening.
For Brown, the death was particularly sad – but the deluge of love messages is a comfort.
“It’s just such an outpouring of grief and love,” Brown said.