A gray kitten sits behind Alumni Hall, as photographed on Oct. 8, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Alice Tang)
A gray kitten sits behind Alumni Hall, as photographed on Oct. 8, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Alice Tang)
Alice Tang

IN PHOTOS: Meet the Commodore cats

Students share their experiences with the growing population of stray cats on campus.

This semester has brought a mysterious increase in the number of stray cat sightings around campus, and some students have discovered the photogenic nature of our newfound Commodore cats.

These cats have become a topic of conversation among students across campus, who see them daily as the cats roam campus. Recently, a group of campus cat enthusiasts has formed a GroupMe intended to share sightings and stories of the new campus habitants.

There is a lack of conclusive evidence as to exactly where these stray cats came from. However, students frequently saw cats around the Carmichael Towers before their demolition in 2021 which was carried out to make room for the new construction of Residential College C. The implosion of the towers seems to have pushed the cats out for the past two years, but now they’ve made their reappearance.

The gray kitten roams through the grass, as photographed on Oct. 8, 2023. (Hustler Staff/Drew Nelles) (Drew Nelles)

Students have discovered patterns in their sightings with these cats. Junior Zander Raycraft is a member of the Vanderbilt cat sighting community and commented on his noticings. 

“Every morning without fail I see a cat with a bobtail chilling and hanging in the forest outside [Featheringill Hall],” Raycraft said. 

The cat has been nicknamed “Purrnelius” by students, short for “Purrnelius Vandermeow,” and has a distinctive short tail.

Another stray cat frequently encountered by students is a gray kitten that visits the Alumni Hall and EBI area every day. The gray kitten is popular among students and has garnered nicknames such as Rothschild, Spooky and Homeless Melody. Other cats that have been sighted include a black cat around Blakemore and two kittens near Kissam, one striped and one black. The Kissam kittens have been spotted together on multiple occasions.

Several members of the cat sightings GroupMe, Vandy Cat Sightings, have taken it upon themselves to feed the cats. Senior Shelby Pybus bought kitten food and keeps it with her for run-ins with the gray kitten. 

“I’ve bumped into the gray kitten several times [and] feed it kitten food, give it water and have tried catching it once,” Pybus said.

These stray cats have proven themselves able to find food on their own; Purrnelius has been witnessed hunting squirrels and bunnies on campus. Students have noted that while the cats seem friendly, they still have feral tendencies and that students should be cautious when approaching the strays. Sophomore Rachel Marlowe shared her story about an encounter she had earlier in the semester. 

“I got too close and caught [the gray kitten] off guard. [It] scratched up the palms of my hands,” Marlowe said.  “They seem to be more domesticated, but always be cautious.”

There have been discussions about what next steps should be taken in caring for the stray cats. A student adoption was organized for the gray kitten and is currently pending. Junior Lark Harrington is a member of the Vandy Cat Sightings chat and says there has been talk of other actions as well. 

“Someone posted that an organization called the Pet Community Center will be doing a trapping event for our campus cats starting on Dec. 11,” Harrington said.

The Pet Community Center aims to reduce the feral cat population by vaccinating and spaying/neutering feral cats.

While these stray cats aren’t the usual campus critters that students are used to, they’re becoming part of the Commodore family.

View comments (1)
About the Contributors
Alice Tang
Alice Tang, Staff Photographer
Alice Tang (‘25) is from Columbia, Mo., and is majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in environmental and sustainability studies. She enjoys birdwatching and arts and crafts. You can reach her at [email protected].
Drew Nelles
Drew Nelles, Staff Writer
Drew Nelles (‘27) is from San Diego and is majoring in biological sciences in the College of Arts and Science. When he is not consumed with schoolwork, you’ll likely find him exploring Nashville or going for a hike. You can reach him at [email protected].
More to Discover

Comments (1)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cat enthusiast
8 months ago

Don’t be shy. Drop the GroupMe link?