Video: Spartans' Longtime, Beloved Cat Has to Go, Principal Says

She's outlasted La Cañada High School football coaches, teachers and principals. But now, after nine years, Spartaca, once lauded for her rodent chasing prowess, is on the prowl for a new home.

You know it's a tough economy when even the cats are getting laid off. 

For nearly a decade, Spartaca, a short-haired domestic cat, has lived, slept and scratched her way around the football offices at . Back then, the Spartans had a bit of a rodent problem, girls' track coach Casey Mollett told Patch during a phone interview Wednesday.

"Spartaca caught everything,'' Mollett said, declining to elaborate on specifics of the feline's effectiveness. Suffice to say, "She was a good mouser.''

But now, with the vermin vanished, and a slew of new sofas and other claw-enticing furniture headed to the freshly remodeled football offices, Spartaca needs to find a new home - much to the chagrin of some students, faculty and even the new football coach, James Sims.

Sims, a life-long dog lover, said Wednesday he's a little surprised the meowing blur that scurried past him at the beginning of summer, this cat that he inherited, has become an unofficial mascot he'll miss. 

Chuckling as Spartaca purred and groomed herself in the middle of his office floor, Sims quipped, "I told her, as long as you don't start calling plays, I'll let you stay.''

That decision, though, wasn't up to Sims. 

Principal Ian McFeat, who replaces outgoing administrator Jackie Luzak, told Patch that "We can't really have pets on campus; just at a basic level, we can't do that.''

He said Spartaca is a great cat, and it is important to him that the animal finds a home - one in which she can be well cared for - but that home can no longer be LCHS.

"We’ve been doing some remodeling and Spartaca does like to scratch things up, so that’s something we should put on her Facebook profile,'' McFeat said, noting the 9-year-old cat has claws. [She didn't, however, have a Facebook page as of this posting.]

Speaking of claws, it was about a month ago that Carol Mollett, the track coach's wife, last trimmed those claws, Mollett told Patch. 

Casey Mollett, who's worked at La Cañada High in one position or another since 1998 has fed Spartaca, played with her, and cleaned her litter box since another coach brought her into the football office back in 2003. 

"She's the sweetest kitty - loves kids, doesn't mind yelling or loud noises. She's a lap cat who would make a wonderful pet for someone,'' Mollett said, explaining that that someone can't be him because he's already got three cats at home, two of them rescues. 

Spartan quarterback Matt Jones, 17, was shocked that the cat he's seen around for the last four years will leave school before he will. The senior shouted into the locker room, asking the coach if it were true.

"That's a bummer,'' Jones said Wednesday, noting he likes cats, but he wouldn't be able to bring Spartaca home because his family already has two cats.

Mollett, too, has a soft spot in his heart for Spartaca, which is why he's looking for someone to adopt her. She's an indoor cat these days, he said, noting she used to venture out onto the field, but for the last year or so, the football office and all its visitors have sufficiently held her interest.

A lifelong fan of the feline, Mollett said people who've never cared for cats might not know they are self-reliant. A person who works full time, for example, could easily be gone all day and even take a weekend trip, and still feel confident that Spartaca would fare just fine (with big bowls of food and water).

"She's a really happy cat. But if your tummy was rubbed all day and you were fed and loved, you'd be happy too,'' Mollett said.


Do you know anyone who might like an adult lap cat as a pet? Email LCF Patch editor Donna Evans, donna.evans@patch.com, for contact information. 

Katherine Oliai August 15, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Thank you Elizabeth :)
Elizabeth Nazarian August 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Thank you Katherine!!! Spartaca has already brought so much joy to me and I hope she's feeling the love too. She adapted right away. When Casey brought her over here in a carrier, which she had never been in before, we waited for her to get out of the carrier on her own. We thought she might run and find a hiding place but she didn't. Instead, she went over to a bowl of Starkist Tuna I had out for her!!! What a thrill to see that!!! Her first night (last Saturday) she slept underneath my bed. Sunday night, she slept on top of my bed and she has slept there every night since!!! This morning, she played with a scratching post I had out for her. See - she knows how to use a scratching post. LCHS' loss has turned into a blessing for me. I believe everything turned out as it should and I hope that the children and parents and Mr. McFeat learned lessons from Spartaca. Liz xo
Sarah Rubin September 01, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Hi. My name is Sarah and I've been the LCHS football manager for the last 2 years. I had grown quite close to Spartaca and was very sad that she was being kicked out of her home like that. She usually was my only companion up in the coaches office. It was just her and me all those hours I spent up there working. I'm in my Senior year now and am truly gonna miss my little friend. I just wanted to come on here and say thank you for taking her in. It was very kind of you to step forward and offer her a home. I'm glad to know that she has a good home even if it isn't at La Canada anymore. I hope Spartaca will bring you as much joy and company as she has brought me over the years. Kind Regards, Sarah R. PS - She is definitely a lap cat. And she also loves to take naps with people. (:
Elizabeth Nazarian September 01, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Dearest Sarah: Thanks for taking your time to write about Spartaca!!! She seems to be happy and I'm making sure to give her all of the love I have. I'm pleased to read that you were a good friend to her and I'm sure she misses you too. If you would like to visit with her, please contact Casey - he has my phone number. Spartaca's Mom
Elizabeth Nazarian November 24, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Happy Holidays to all. I don't know why I received the above email, but as an update, Spartaca continues to thrive!!! The surgery to have her spayed - no, that was never done - was not cheap. Apparently, she had been sick before getting spayed. Parkview originally charged me $1,022.00 for the surgery. The bill was later reduced. It's unfortunate that no one ever offered to trim her nails or visit her. I've managed on my own to do these things. She's purring on my lap now as I write. Take care, students!!!


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