Walking the paths of UCA at night was a luxury for tabby El Gato. But now that fall classes have started up, he has been frantically avoiding the students who come out at night.
“It is terrible,” El Gato said as he licked his worn-out paw pads. “I go out, and there are humans everywhere. One day it’s nice and quiet and the next they’re stumbling across campus like it’s nobody’s business.”
He said that he use to spend his nights happily chasing the squirrels that came down from the trees to eat the grass. He remembers how wonderful a feeling it was to sink his teeth into their flesh.
“I can’t get rid of that feeling—the thrill of the chase. It’s like the tiger inside is trying to come out. Now with the students here, the squirrels are more reluctant to come down,” he said.
El Gato is also concerned about the growing number of dogs being walked.
“Even if I hide, they sniff me out and make this thunderous noise. It’s terrifying,” he said. “I lose a life every time it happens.”
Even if students don’t walk dogs, he is scrambling to get out of the way of students who walk off the paths and into the grass.
“They’ll be walking, looking at some little square box, then suddenly turn and run into the grass screaming. I remember one of them screaming, ‘I caught an Articuno,’” he said. “I don’t know what kind of disease that is, but I’m staying far away for those humans.”
image via Michael Frank Franz