Kenyon College’s mascot is, technically, a lord (or a lady), its logo a purple shield featuring the family coat of arms of one English noble who helped establish the Ohio school in 1824. But two years ago, a new, unofficial mascot emerged for the liberal-arts college.
Since 2017, a black cat named Moxie has been roaming Kenyon’s 1,000-acre campus, sharpening his claws on its maple-tree trunks and riding on students’ backpacks as they walk to class.
Kenyon College and the surrounding towns are famously brimming with feral cats, and a select few have in the past gotten special treatment from the student community. But Moxie is unique. He likely arrived on campus some evening in October 2017, according to reporting from earlier this year by the student paper The Kenyon Collegian. Then a six-month-old stray kitten, Moxie (along with another, more timid cat called Mosie) happened upon Pastor Susan Stevens, who was in her car enjoying some french fries. Moxie made a beeline for the food as soon as he got a whiff, jumping in Stevens’s car, she told the Collegian. The pastor, whose house is very close to Kenyon, drove home with the strays at her side. She adopted them, and gave them their names.
Moxie, it turns out, isn’t much of a homebody. He started spending pretty much all his time outdoors on campus as soon as he was adopted, initially frustrating Stevens, who was desperate for the then-kitten to attach to her. What she didn’t know at first was that he’d become a Kenyon darling almost overnight—these days, the two-year-old cat treats the students like his personal chauffeur service. Moxie regularly jumps up onto the backpacks of passing humans, traversing campus on his two-legged chariots. He delights the school, but also disturbs it. Recently, for example, the fire department had to rescue the cat from a coffee shop’s roof. He likes to infiltrate classroom buildings, too; signs warning students not to let Moxie into the lecture halls abound. Every once in a while he enters Kenyon’s on-campus Episcopal church unannounced, in the middle of Reverend Rachel Kessler’s sermons.