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Davis, California

Friday, July 12, 2024

Best campus animal: Cheeto

Cheeto’s comforting presence has permanently won the hearts of animal-loving students


By LEV FARRIS GOLDBERG — features@theaggie.org


For the second year in a row, Cheeto the cat won best campus animal in The Aggie’s Best of Davis student survey. The beloved orange tabby beat out a crowded field of campus animals for the award, including the Arboretum ducks, dairy barn cows, sheepmowers and campus squirrels. Cheeto received 56.7% of the vote, beating the other candidates and claiming the highly competitive award.

Cheeto, who can be found prowling the steps of the physics building or dozing in the bushes nearby, is known for his warm personality, playful antics and winning smile.

The campus cat even has his own Instagram account, @cheetodaily, with over 9,000 followers and counting. Its creator, a fourth-year UC Davis student who has chosen to remain anonymous, knew about Cheeto before even committing to Davis. Upon coming to campus, they made it their mission to meet the friendly feline.

“He was napping in the bushes at the physics building and I was immediately so excited to meet him when I first spotted him from a distance,” the administrator of the account said. “I came up to him and […]  my day was immediately 10,000% better. From then on, I kept visiting him throughout the quarter and grew to love him more and more.”

The account was started in 2019 during the administrator’s first quarter.

“He played a huge role in getting me through my first quarter here, and I remember seeing other people having similar stories about how his presence always brought them joy,” the administrator said. “That’s when I realized I wanted to share that same joy and happiness with others who may not be aware of Cheeto.”

Asked to comment on his award, Cheeto responded, “Meow. Meow meow, meow.”

First-year design major Helen Cordova Mendez first met Cheeto last September. Just like @cheetodaily, Mendez said that her encounters with Cheeto always leave a lasting impression on her days.

“Seeing Cheeto is like a little mental break and helps relax me if I’m ever overthinking or stressed,” Mendez said. “When I first came to UC Davis, I was told [that] if he touches you, you will pass your classes. He came up to me during winter quarter, and I passed all my classes.”

First-year agricultural and environmental technology major Clarissa Tsue tracked down Cheeto during her first week at Davis and said that she thinks the award is well-deserved.

“I think that Cheeto deserves the Best Campus Animal [award] because he’s friendly and likes people, unlike the ducks, squirrels and wild turkeys that are out and about,” Tsue said.

Tsue visits Cheeto three to four times a week. 

“I sometimes get pet-sick missing my dog at home, so Cheeto is a nice replacement,” Tsue said. “His friendliness really helped me grow more confident in liking cats; some might even say I’m becoming a cat person!”

Written by: Lev Farris Goldberg — features@theaggie.org