The truth about New College's feline-in-residence
Though traditionally considered an omen of death and misfortune, one black cat has crossed the path of many New College students bringing smiles in lieu of bad luck. The cat in question goes by many names: Murry, Mary Magdalene, but most students know her by Maria. The little black cat, whose namesake is actually the Catalyst’s very own sponsor Maria Vesperi, began meandering its way across campus last school year and, being particularly social and vocal for a cat, quickly ingratiated herself to the New College community.
Believe it or not Maria had a life before New College. Alums Nash Bryant and J.D. Kelly acquired Maria along with her brother, Indy, four years ago from a friend in Tampa. Both Maria and her brother are black and because of the stigma surrounding that particular variety of cat no one was willing to take them. Nash and JD’s friend happened to be a practicing Wiccan. She was of course very concerned about the cats’ future and encouraged Nash and JD to adopt them The cats were at first very attached together and actually sired a litter together. They have since been fixed and had a falling out, but now both live happily in a house in the Uplands neighborhood along with two ferrets and a dog. At least that is when Maria is actually home.
Early on in her exploration of campus her owners, alumni Nash Bryant and JD Kelly, were pleased Maria could cause such joy for students clearly starved of animal companionship. Throughout her time on campus students have students have really developed a fondness for her, offering her anything from a place to crash to some leftover Ham food. Maria feels comfortable following pretty much anyone to anywhere, in the past she stuck to café but over time she’s learned the values of the overpass and has winded up at many a New College dorm.
However as Maria’s range began to spread further past the Four Winds Café towards the East side of campus Nash and JD began to get worried. The stretches of time Maria spent away from home lengthened too until Maria stopped coming home completely unless scooped up and returned. The Maria that finally did come home wasn’t always the cat JD and Nash remembered: “The thing is when she comes back she’s feral for a few days because she’s kinda been on her own for a while out in the wild and when she comes home she just eats a ton of food and passes out for a few days like a person who’s been on a drug binge,” Kelly said. “I do think she really enjoys being out and about but my big concern is that she seems to become more irritated.” Ultimately Maria’s owners are happy that so many New College students have gotten to know Maria, but in light of potential health problems and the fact that in the summer months no one would be around to feed the little guy, they’ve desperately been trying to keep Maria an in-house cat. Nash cites concerns that some students may be inadvertently fined when Maria follows them into their dorm. Ultimately both are very fond of the cat and miss her when she’s gone for so long.
If Maria is seen wandering around campus it means she’s escaped! For her own good, Nash and JD would appreciate it if students would call the numbers on her tag. During weekdays its best to reach JD where he works at New College’s child center 941-360-5590. Otherwise he can be contacted at 941-962-9493.