The Coolest Cats on Campus: Meet the Zaeders’ Furry Feline Family

Often seen roaming the Quads, Thayer Zaeder ’83’s cats have become a topic of discussion around campus. Zaeder, Instructor in Art and house counselor in Bishop Hall, and his family have seven cats: Max, age 10, Doctor De Soto, around age 10, Stewie, about age eight, TJ, about age three, Victor, age two, Tunechi, age one, and Melman, age one. All are rescue cats, most coming from the Another Chance Rescue organization.

Lately, the black cat, Doctor De Soto, has been seen in West Quad North and West Quad South. Often spending the night in Johnson Hall, he roams through halls and wanders into many students’ rooms. Although some girls in Johnson enjoy having the cat around, there are others who are scared of him and less welcoming of his frequent visits.

“My hall gives the cat a lot of love and gives it food, so it started coming to our hall every time someone opens the door to Johnson. It will just come into our room if any of our doors were open,” said Singareddy.

“I didn’t know it was in my room, but I could hear it meowing. I wake up to it meowing every day. Then I sit up, and it was lying on my feet, in my bed. I pushed it off and started screaming. It was terrifying,” she continued.

One reason people are scared of De Soto is because he’s a black cat, which can be viewed as a bad omen, according to Eamon Garrity-Rokus ’20, who lives in Rockwell House. Garrity-Rokus sees De Soto two or three times a week.

“It’s not particularly enjoyable to see it, since it’s a black cat and it walks right across my path, which is supposed to be unlucky. It might just be a superstition, but the thought does cross my mind. It’s cool to see the cat and pet it, but it’s supposed to be an unlucky experience,” said Garrity-Rokus.

Singareddy also claims that the gray cat, TJ, has followed her along the path.

“There’s also a gray cat, TJ. It doesn’t come into Johnson, but it’s always on the path between Johnson and Rockwell. It’s so scary. That’s the one that chases you. At least the black cat doesn’t hurt you, but the grey one will chase you, which is terrifying,” she said.

T.J., pictured above, is known to haunt the path between Johnson and Rockwell.

Jair Suazo ’17 enjoys the company of some of the cats that follow him around the Quads.

Suazo said, “I’m a fan of [one of the cats] because I usually try to model my lifestyle like her. She walks carelessly around the Quads, and so I always run into her. She’s always kind of defiant and always growls at me, and I kind of like that because I wish I could live carelessly like that beautiful cat.”

Eliot Zaeder ’17 confirmed that these cats are harmless and pose no danger or threat to anyone.

“None of them have ever attacked anybody, or scratched, or bit anyone. They’re pets, not wild animals. With half the cats, you can just pick them up and they won’t do anything,” he said.

“I think [the cats are] hilarious. It’s so funny, because I get videos from friends, who I’ve been with at school for four years, and they have the cat in their dorm room. They’ll take a picture with it, give it a little kiss on the cheek, and send it to me, and I just laugh. It’s really funny,” he continued.