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Friday, April 12, 2024

UC Davis community grieves the loss of Compost, one of the famous felines who called the campus home

Students and staff share their experiences and memories of Compost and other campus cats

By MAYA SHYDLOWSKI — features@theaggie.org

Over the weekend of Oct. 23, UC Davis lost Compost, one of the beloved felines that has brought comfort and happiness to many students. Compost, who lived at the Student Farm on campus, died at the age of 13 as a result of various medical conditions, according to an Instagram post from the Student Farm. She was brought to the veterinary medical center on campus because of an ongoing problem, but died there after cancerous cells were found in her lungs.

The Student Farm announced Compost’s death and presented a memoir of her life via Instagram. According to the post, she was born behind the shop at the Student Farm and was known for her friendly nature.

According to the post, “a small number of Student Farmers lovingly buried Compost before the rains came in a bed of cardoon leaves and flowers under a tree near the picnic tables.”

Compost is said to have supported both student mental health and farm management during her life on the Student Farm. She was loved by everyone who visited the farm, except for the small rodents whose population she kept under control. She was often seen laying in the sun on the picnic tables next to the Ecological Garden, where students often gather between classes or work.

Julia Shreiber is the coordinator of the Ecological Garden at the Student Farm and helped take care of Compost. She shared why Compost was so important to so many staff and students.

“I think she just had a sort of very calm, sweet presence that reminded folks to slow down and look around and enjoy the sunshine,” Shreiber said. “I think she helped a lot of folks to let go of stress and be in the moment with her there in the garden.”

Shreiber said Compost would greet the staff and students every morning when they got to work and often jump up into their laps.

Many students have this same memory of the friendly black feline, including Adam Maiale, who is a fourth-year sustainable agriculture and food systems and Spanish double major and former intern at the Student Farm.

“I loved sitting down at the tables at the Eco Garden, and Compost would just come and lay down in front of me,” Maiale said. “I miss giving Compost belly rubs.”

Compost, like the other cats on campus, provided students and staff with emotional support and a break from the busyness of their lives.

Luckily, Compost is not the only cat to call UC Davis home. Multiple cats have been spotted roaming around near buildings and taking in food and attention whenever they can. While not everyone can have a pet in college, everyone can visit the friendly cats that reside around campus. They are technically feral cats, though they are taken care of by both students and faculty.

One student who knows these cats well is Tina Sorenson, a fifth-year art studio and computer engineering double major, who is doing a photography project on feral cats in Davis. She said that she chose to make cats the focus of her project both because of how much she misses her own cat and because of how much happiness the cats of Davis bring people.

“I wanted to do a more lighthearted, positive project because I feel like sometimes we all sort of need a break from the things around us,” Sorenson said.

Sorenson has collected photos of at least three cats on campus, including Cheeto, who is most likely to be found by the physics building. Cheeto has become something of a legend around there, as the first floor northeast hallway was recently named “Cheeto Way” in his honor. He was even featured in an article in The Sacramento Bee after a sign went up by the physics building warning students to stop feeding him.

“He has become far too overweight for his health, please do not feed him — no matter how much he begs! And he will beg. Because he knows we are suckers!” the sign reads.

Cheeto had gained a bit of weight but has returned to a relatively healthy size since the sign was posted.

However, Cheeto is not the only cat attracted to the physics department. A large, grey cat called Big Grey lived there before Cheeto, but was adopted. There are also currently two other cats who visit the physics building: Allie and Charcoal. They are far more shy and do not interact with students as much as Cheeto, but they are fed and taken care of by faculty in the physics department as well.

Cheeto, originally known as Tangelo, was discovered with another cat named Clementine, who now resides at the Art MFA studios on campus.

Other cats Sorenson has taken pictures of include Coco of Veihmeyer Hall and Newspaper, who lives by Voorhies Hall.

“I think it brings more people together because when I was taking photos of Cheeto, some other students came by and wanted to take photos of him,” Sorenson said. “They were telling me about other cats they’d seen. So it seems like when it comes to cute animals, people are very happy to share their stories about them.”


Written by: Maya Shydlowskifeatures@theaggie.org



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