Section: Features

Beloved college cat Moxie ‘fills a need’ on Kenyon campus

Beloved college cat Moxie ‘fills a need’ on Kenyon campus

Moxie, everyone’s favorite feline friend, looks after students walking to and from class. | BEN NUTTER

Kenyon is home to many beloved cats, from the Pipe Kittens of 2016 to President Sean Decatur, affectionately known as D-Cat. In the past two years, however, a local black shorthair named Moxie has inserted himself in Kenyon culture as the friendliest cat of them all.

Not only does Moxie bring Kenyon students together — demonstrated by examples like the Thrill’s Dec. 2018 collection of anecdotes — Moxie has also become a link between students and the Gambier community.

On the new Facebook group, “Where’s Moxie @ Kenyon”, Gambier residents and Kenyon students bond with one another by sharing photos and updates about Moxie.   The group was founded by Campus Safety Supervisor and Telecommunications Coordinator Deb Shelhorn, Telecommunications Officer Regina Wolfe and Officer Malinda St. Clair after they hadn’t seen Moxie for several days. “Since he seems to be loved by everyone, it was just a way to keep others informed,” St. Clair said. Since the group opened to the public on March 31 there have been daily posts, often multiple each day, from its nearly 200 members. 

One recent addition to the group is Pastor Susan Stevens, Moxie’s official owner. Stevens lives near the Acland Apartments and has been the pastor at Gambier Epworth United Methodist Church for 10 years.

She first recognized her cat’s popularity in Nov. 2018 when taking a walk on campus. Stevens recalled, “He was following me, and there were people going ‘Hi Moxie, Hi Moxie.’ I’m going, ‘you know a lot of people, don’t you?’” 

Moxie and his brother, Mosey, became part of Stevens’ household in Oct. 2017 when Moxie  jumped into her car on a back road in Holmes County. “And of course, Mosey followed because he smelled french fries,” said Stevens, who decided to take both cats home after determining they were strays. They were around six months old at the time, and this month Stevens will celebrate their second birthdays “with a little extra food.”

Mosey, a gray tabby, is the shyer of the two.  Moxie shares some markings with his brother, including a white patch Stevens refers to as a “shirt front.”

While Moxie spends most nights at home, in the first six months Stevens received calls from worried locals and students “almost nightly” when he stayed out late. “I had to remove my phone number [from his collar] because I was getting calls at two in the morning,” Stevens said. Prior to learning about Moxie’s celebrity status, she was annoyed if he didn’t return. “Now I know when he’s not coming back, he’s with somebody,” she said.

Chris Raffa ’19 theorizes that “Moxie knows when Kenyon students are going through it” and comes to comfort them. He is not alone in thinking this, as many students have their own Moxie stories.

Alexandra Kanovsky ’19, copy editor for the Collegian and Morgan resident, described multiple occasions on which Moxie “climbed on my shoulders and ran into my house for cuddles” while she was stressed about her thesis.

Stevens has also seen a number of student interactions with Moxie from her front door. In one instance, a student was lying on a nearby picnic table. Moxie climbed up and laid on the student’s chest for about twenty minutes.

When asked what makes her cat so friendly, Stevens is quick to respond: “I really believe God has given him that gift.” She sees Moxie as the answer to her prayers of connecting and bringing “the love of Jesus” to Kenyon students. Reflecting on Moxie’s impact, she added, “God brought him to this campus to fill a niche, to fill a need.”

“When this cat came onto campus the door just swung wide open,” she said. “I was able to meet so many of you, and I want to say thank you to all of you college students who have taken him in and loved him.”

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