University's Campus Cat Earns an Honorary Degree in Litter-auture

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic
Natasha Zakharova/Shutterstock

A cat, named Max, graduated from Vermont State University at Castleton last weekend. The cute tabby has earned a doctorate in “litter-ature” without taking any classes in recognition of his friendliness. 

The feline, whose full name is Max Dow, has proved himself to be an expert napper and hunter of mice and has been an affectionate member of the Castleton family for years. In a pun ladden Facebook post, the college shared that this year they’ll have a very special honorary degree recipient.

With a resounding purr of approval from the faculty, the Board of Trustees of the Vermont State Cat-leges has bestowed on Max Dow the prestigious title of Doctor of Litter-ature, complete with all the catnip perks, scratching post privileges, and litter box responsibilities that come with it.” 

“While his adventures may have slowed, Max exemplifies the CastletonWay and we are honored to have him as a member of VTSU’s firstclass.” 

Once a stray kitten, Max was adopted by Ashley Dow from Fair Haven four years ago. The popular tabby lives with his family in Seminary Street, a few steps from Castleton’s campus. 

Max’s owner, Ashley Dow told the local news station WCAXMy cat is the emotional support animal” to students and faculty members. Adding that Max has been socializing around the campus for about four years - pretty much the entire time he has been living with the Dow family.

The students like to pick Max up, take selfies with him, and carry him on backpacks around the campus. 

The admission office describes Max as the star of their campus tours to prospective students and visitors. 

“He comes out and actually greets most of our guests. He’ll follow them over to the old chapel where they get a general welcome, and then when they start their tour, he usually follows right along with them,” said Brandon Kennedy, associate director of admissions. 

The end of the school year is a confusing time for Max. Dow explained that summer breaks confound Max and throw him off his normal routine. Suddenly the campus is empty, and there’s no one to pick up Max and give him a hug.

He’ll go looking and then come back, kind of disappointed, kind of sad, and he’ll stick around the house more,” said Dow. 

Max’s family is looking forward to spending more time with him this summer as he patiently waits for his other family to come back to campus in the fall for another school year. 

The tabby feline likes to stay on campus so much, that he forgot to return home several times. Luckily for his family, Max is such a famous figure that students bring him home if he is ever seen out and about after 5 pm.

Students did actually bring him home,” said Dow. “Or… they have my number, and I’ll get a text message from random students [saying] like, ‘He’s OK, he’s up by the greenhouse,’ and all of that.” 

Sometimes, Max gets confused and forgets to return to the campus after the breaks. During one of Max’s extended absences from the campus, students erected a shrine commemorating him. They’ve even put candles and printed a picture of Max and put it in a frame. 

Although his family is excited to spend more time with Max this summer, they know that he’ll head back to campus when students come back in the fall. “The students will come back in the fall and he’ll be gone for three days, and we’ll have to go looking for him, and he’s up there on the campus hanging out waiting for his people.”

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Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

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