Habibi On the Run

Various cats have been spotted slinking around campus, getting copious pets and pats from passersby. One of our famous campus felines who received a particularly big amount of buzz recently is Habibi, a Siamese who is generally spotted around the GCC (particularly the mailroom), and inside other buildings like Vollum and residence halls. Described as both friendly and feisty, this multifaceted character of a cat has grabbed the attention of the student population, and now the CSOs, too.

Originally appearing sometime last semester, Habibi’s presence has become more prominent. The Quest reached out to mailroom worker Dámaso Zapata as well as the owner of the Instagram account @mailroomcat, who runs a page exclusively on Habibi and who wished to remain anonymous for insight.

Over fall break, the siamese cat crept indoors from the rain into the mailroom, where he napped and enjoyed food from workers. @mailroomcat, over an email interview, notes that Habibi “was a lot more friendly and open to being pet than the canyon cats” and characterizes him as curious, stubborn, and “hunger[y] for cat treats.” Dámaso describes Habibi as an “independent cat” that “tolerates” being pet, even biting them when they had no food to offer after begging on the sink.

Habibi, as @mailroomcat reveals, began exploring more of the GCC basement and even ventured into commons. On November 4th, they posted a picture on Instagram of Habibi in a cage with comments including “FREE HIM” from @zoe.acute and “so glad they’re taking a stance against the real issues like Habibi the cat” from @aoifezuck. The owner of the account similarly remarked with confusion, writing “I thought it was extremely unnecessary and strange since he had a known owner. There was no definitive answer about where Habibi was being taken.” 

The Quest reached out to Gary Granger for further clarification. After multiple reports, the CSOs took Habibi to 28 West where the owners were notified for him to be picked up. Complaints include going into commons, notably in the food service areas and violating health guidelines, disrupting a biology lab, and entering workspaces of individuals with severe allergies. “I have cautioned Habibi’s owner that the Multnomah County code has a provision for pets trespassing,” writes Gary over an email interview, “and that the Reed College Animal Policy also does not allow for an unrestrained cat (or any other animal) on campus” in order to protect sensitive individuals. These policies are in place to allow “humans and more-than-human animals to co-exist in our combined residential/work/academic/recreational community” safely.

The CSOs returned Habibi to his owner. Dámaso reveals that “if the CSOs catch him they are going to send him to the humane society” and @mailroomcat echoed a similar sentiment in posts from November 4th, 9th, and 11th with pleas to contact the owners rather than the CSOs to fetch him. Imagine the number of phone calls! 

However, Gary clarifies that “this is not our desire [to send Habibi to the humane society] and we will continue to take reasonable steps to return Habibi to their human if they return to campus—and attempt to hold that human accountable for their lack of responsibility and proper care for Habibi.”

It is evident that the owners are having difficulty with keeping Habibi indoors. “The owners aren’t very enthusiastic about Habibi and want to get him adopted,” Dámaso explains, “but he [then] returns to campus the next day? So maybe they aren’t putting that much effort into keeping him at home.” Gary also adds that the owner “declined to ensure that Habibi stay indoors and blamed the college for ‘encouraging’ the cat to show up” and “has been unresponsive to our many requests and is being irresponsible with Habibi’s care.”

As shown by the passionate Instagram comments and the devotion of the mailroom workers, Habibi has developed quite a fan base of Reedies to support him. As a personal aside, Gary writes “I share my home with cats, am enamored with them generally, and have found Habibi to be a marvelous being. I genuinely hope that [the owner] steps up.”

“He also has just had so many interactions,” @mailroomcat notes, “with so many students and staff around campus. Through managing the Instagram account, I have gotten a lot of lovely dm’s with people’s pictures of them hanging out with Habibi as well as some adorable stories of their encounters with him and how much they adore him. It is really fun to share stories about cute interactions with Habibi with others, and I think he brings a lot of joy and comfort to people on campus.”

Picture taken by Asta from the mailroom 

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