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UCLA’s ‘casual mascot,’ Powell Cat, has died. Some call for a memorial statue


He has left us a legend.

A memorial service is planned. Shirts for sale. People everywhere are posting tributes online and thousands are replying and liking the posts.

Few achieve this kind of celebrity in life and adulation in death. But UCLA’s beloved mutt Powell Cat did.

The cat, who used the pronouns they/they, according to Powell Cat’s official Instagram page, died at age 10 on Thursday, ascending to kitty heaven, leaving behind earthbound fans and friends grieving the loss of a pillar. from campus. The cat lived at the university for years, and the first known photos of him date from 2015.

“Rest in pawer, Powell Cat,” the official UCLA page tweeted.

Powell Cat’s informal memorial by students Monday at UCLA’s Kaufman Hall, where Powell Cat sat with his student friends.

(Kathy Brown Library/UCLA)

The Powell Cat was such a feature of UCLA campus life that the school sold T-shirts featuring the black-and-white stray cat, and campus tour guides mentioned the fluffy feline when guiding prospective students around the university.

“People have called the Powell Cat the informal mascot of UCLA,” said Kathy Brown, Assistant University Librarian at the UCLA Library and the Powell Cat’s primary staff caretaker since 2020. Brown, who works at the Charles Research Library E. Young, came to campus every day during the pandemic and took responsibility for feeding Powell Cat and making sure the friendly cat was safe and cared for.

The cat first lived next to the Powell Library of the same name. About two years later, Powell Cat ventured up the brick steps of Glorya Kaufman Hall, where they could be found basking in the sun or lying around playing with toys or catnip brought to them by friends and admirers. Powell Cat was known to be incredibly human friendly, hugging 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 in Kaufman Hall.

“Some of my best memories, and this is shared by many students, is (Powell Cat) would climb into your lap and make himself comfortable and you had to be somewhere but you couldn’t leave because Powell Cat. Powell cat made (the students) will be late for many 8 am classes,” Brown said.

The last time Brown saw Powell Cat, a week ago, his legs went numb because Powell Cat lay on them for so long.

Cat Powell, 2021

Cat Powell, 2021

(Kathy Brown Library/UCLA)

In addition to caring for Powell Cat, Brown was also responsible for the cat’s meme Instagram page, where 15,600 fans who follow @powellcatofficial could expect updates and photos of the cat, whose account, understandably, is listed as a “public figure.”

“If you see the cat, you post it on your Insta story,” said Navkaram Gurm, who went to UCLA through 2021. “It’s UCLA tradition. There is a lot of tradition associated with sharing the cat”.

Although the cat was already a popular figure at UCLA, the pandemic and the publicity on social media certainly contributed to its widespread fame, Brown said.

“You can’t compete with a cat on the Internet. From the beginning. Cats and the Internet go hand in hand,” Brown said.

The cat’s death led some students to ask the school to set up a physical memorial, perhaps with a statue that would immortalize the cat.

“Everyone really wants a Powell Cat statue,” said Phoebe Chiu, a UCLA senior who is the facilities commissioner for the Undergraduate Student Association. Council at school.

Chiu recalled hearing about Powell Cat from her first day on campus.

“I don’t think I ever thought of UCLA without the Powell Cat,” he said.

He has seen the cat dozens of times and has also petted the stray cat a few times.

Building a statue on campus, or perhaps a painting or mural, has to go through the university’s Byzantine bureaucracy, starting with public comments by students on Tuesday night to gauge how the student body wants to commemorate. to the cat. An official memorial is planned for Thursday night.

For Brown, the death has been particularly sad, but the deluge of loving messages is a comfort.

“It’s a great outpouring of pain and love,” Brown said.

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