A Star Rises: Cat Named After Flower Wins Hearts of Many

Izzie Corley

Staff Writer

 

Sunflower, a local calico cat, has been spotted mingling with the campus community over the months.

Many college campuses have celebrities who earn themselves a reputation for their unique qualities. Sometimes, they are students known for maintaining a distinctive fashion sense, or a teacher whose energetic presence is spoken of even by those who have never attended a single one of their classes. Sometimes, however, the campus celebrity isn’t actually a person — instead, it’s a cat.

Many students at the College of Wooster spend their commutes along the academic quad with their eyes peeled for a sighting of the infamous Sunflower, an especially friendly calico cat, who travels to campus from a nearby home on a daily basis. Sunflower is set apart from many of the other cats of the Wooster campus by the fact that she is not a stray. Her tags reassure that she is allowed to be outside. Generally, she returns home at night after a long day spent tromping the Oak Grove area in search of prey to feed her hunter instincts and human “prey” to feed her house-cat instincts. Those who come across her are at risk of being exposed to dangerous levels of cuteness, and even cuddles.

A Wooster student’s hunt to meet Sunflower is not  an endeavor they must make alone. Rather, Sunflower’s celebrity status has earned her a decent social media presence. The local feed on YikYak, a location-based social media app, sees frequent updates whenever Sunflower is spotted in a certain area, as students alert each other to the possibility to share  the particularly enjoyable experience of meeting this beloved cat. Additionally, multiple Instagram accounts have been created to post pictures of campus cats, such as @kittiesofwooster, including some dedicated entirely to Sunflower. One, @theofficialsunflowerthekitty, appears to be run by Sunflower’s owners. While they have only posted one picture, they do comment on every one of the posts made by the “Sunflower the Cat Fan Page,” @woosunflower. 

One recurring topic brought up on social media is Sunflower’s tendency to enter campus buildings when given the chance. She has been seen inside of buildings, such as Kauke Hall and Andrews Library, and there are even rumors of students keeping her in their dorms overnight. “I was in the middle of my Chinese Philosophy class when my Professor just abruptly and subtly mentioned that there was a cat behind us through the window,” Geoffrey Allen ’23 said, “and we all had pikachu faces when we saw it.” This pattern of building-entry, especially when people let her in on purpose, is the downside of her image as a campus celebrity. Like human celebrities, it can be easy  to forget boundaries and develop a sense of entitlement to her. This type of thinking leads to students not considering the outcome of their actions when they let Sunflower into a residential hall. Sunflower’s owners have expressed some concern about the idea of students providing her “alternative lodging.” Just because they are happy to share the love does not mean they are comfortable with their cat being put in a situation where she could potentially be kidnapped. It is important to keep in mind that while our hearts belong to the Sunflower, she still belongs to her owners.

It is easy to understand why Sunflower has become such a popular figure in the College community. Her presence and personality make her uniquely equipped to bring joy to Wooster students, who may be feeling worn down by the demands of academic and personal spheres.

For a student who spends most of their time indoors staring at a textbook or screen, only spending time outdoors when walking between different places to sit and stare at a screen, having an encounter with an animal is a welcome excuse to spend a few extra minutes satisfying the human need for a connection with nature. Moreover, unlike any of the stray cats seen on campus, Sunflower’s sociable disposition means that meeting her is a chance to bond with another living thing.

As college students, many of us spend the majority of our time only interacting with fellow members of the academic sector. Sunflower is a representative of the outside world — a friendly reminder that the earth does not drop off into the boundless void of outer space past the limits of campus property. For those of us who are attending the College of Wooster from out of town, out of state and even out of country, having a chance to interact with something unrelated to the College is a needed respite. “I am a big fan of Sunflower. Though some may disagree, I think she would be an Art History and Russian Studies double major. Overall she is a wonderful face to see around campus,” said Dishman. This is the case especially when you are missing your pets back home. Being able to give Sunflower a little bit of affection takes away some of the sting of not being able to give that affection to your own animals.

As the semester drags on and our lives continue to revolve more and more around class schedules, due dates and workdays, Sunflower offers the constant potential for a pleasant surprise, adding something organic and dynamic into the monotony of our day-to-day experience. It’s that kind of something that makes walking the same paths between the same buildings every day feel less like a commute, and more like an adventure.