Last 2013, The Menagerie released a “purrofile” of the cats around campus. However, with a significant growth in population, these peculiar residents settled in and around DLSU, now remaking names for themselves. So if the view from up here’s getting dull, curl up into a six-pound ball of fur to see what Taft is like on all fours. Take a walk into the nine lives of the DLSU cats, hearing their opinions on Stan Smith and Nike always kicking at them, and what Ate Rica’s bacsilog really tastes like on a dirty monoblock table.
The late Yuch Cat
The campus didn’t always have cats, but one of its first inhabitants was the great late long-legged Lolo Yuch Cat (RIP). Father to most of the cats in the University, he inherited Dilaw na Daan, a canned daing, tinapa, and pandesal fortune his parents had left in a warehouse in Harison Plaza. Juan and Yoko Cat (RIP) were World War II veteran cats—Juan Cat used his razor sharp claws to defend Brothers from Japanese soldiers during the infamous massacre, and he met his Kyoto-born wife when she stayed behind to lick the wounded. Lolo Yuch Cat recounted his family’s history and his thoughts in scratch writings around tree trunks and pavements. Like the late Ninoy Aquino, Yuch Cat was a tom cat for the cats, just as the former was a man of the people. He made donations to the Filipino Feline Foundation (FFF) and founded the charity school, De La Salle University for Cats of Manila (DLSUC) with its respective organization Animo “Pawsibilities”. In scratches he wrote, “It will be my life’s honor to follow in St. John [Baptist De La Salle]’s footsteps, whom I read about in LASARE booklets in recycling bins.” Humans loved him so he was often fed; so much so that he grew obese, which sadly led to his cardiac arrest in February 2015. His memory and lineage is continued in DLSU.
Henry Cat and Jr.
Upon entering the gated premises of De La Salle University, nothing says good morning like walking through the waist-high turnstiles, hearing successive ID scanner beeps, and running into a sleeping Henry Cat behind the guards. “I usually wake up at 8:30-something,” says the drowsy cat with a yawn. “Sometimes 10, if I’ve had a long night like last night.” This sleepy guy has made the gate up to the connective walkway to LS his home—last Christmas, he was given a plate strategically placed near the sewage. “Well, obviously, I’ve put on some weight.”
Along the row of benches, a tiny dark gray kitten who always happens to always look like he just woke up appears. “Oh that’s Junior,” he introduces while shaking his head. “He’s got a lot to learn. Emphasis on the LOT,” says the three-year-old, yellow-furred cat that found the abandoned kitten outside the gates by the plant box one cold January evening. “Took it to myself to take him in,” he shares. “Called him junior, not that we look anything alike. But you know, the kid’s got a lot’a fight in him and I like that.”
“Apparently Henry Cat’s my half-brother,” begins Peri Cat who meows under the chairs at Perico’s. “But I’ll spare you the weird details as to how we found out. It’s a cat thing—you won’t know you’re related until…”
she mumbles on while licking her arms. “Fine, we almost had a litter together,” the yellow-furred cat admits. “Guess you can call it a blessing in disguise or our kittens would’ve gotten sick… I don’t go Happy T anymore, so no more San Mig Light for me,” announces Peri Cat. The flirtatious feline is proud to admit she is now two months expecting, leaving the father anonymous this time. Canteen goers might soon have to share their tapsilog and sisig to some kittens.
Miguel Cat, Velas Cat, and SJ Cat
Cliques exist even among the most isolated of creatures and this is proven by the likes of Miguel, Velas, and SJ Cat who are all magkabarcatda. Although usually spotted alone, when nobody’s watching, these three are inseparable. Miguel Cat is easily confused with SJ Cat, both being white and average in weight and height. His distinguishing mark is his red eye while a beige patch can tell SJ apart on his ear. The feline is notorious for taunting students. “Think of it as my service to society,” he chuckles, making it to the Maintenance’ Most Wanted after being featured on Snapcat video for pooping in public between Engwalk and Miguel. “Well I fear humans. One day they’re feeding you, next thing you know you’re half sedated on a silver plate in the fifth
floor [of SJ] for a Psych experiment,” rants SJ Cat, wheezing. His anxieties and nightmares developed from the jars he stumbled on after exploring SJ late at night. “I’ve almost had it with those bulky Stans, Smiths, and ano bang Roche na yan” Miguel Cat says, expressing his contempt for the shoo’s and shoes he’s gotten from humans protecting their frightened, cat-phobic friends. “We stay for the food,” blurts out scaredy SJ Cat. “We settle for healthy grub they get from Bloemen. Dontcha just love it when it rains corn? Agno food’s a lot better, but it gets crowded,” explains Miguel Cat. “Yeah, the hardened cheese-Knorr, bacon on the monoblock is not as good, but it’s better than broccoli,” admits black-furred Velas Cat. “And there’s nothing like hanging sa rooftop after a full meal noh?” Miguel Cat remarks, looking at his buddies. “Yeah, dude, nobody bothers us pa [there],” Velas Cat agrees.
Parkour for fit felines begins at sundown and the course ranges from Velasco’s steep fire exit to the construction site by EGI. They pounce on to the vast green yero uptop campus to the lengthy, white corinthian pillars of Yuchengco. “Uy, parkour mamaya ah, guys? Don’t be a ditcher, SJ,” Miguel Cat teases as they walk towards the bin in Agno for pre-game.
Momma Agno Cat and kittens
The life of momma Agno cat is not always an easy one. She gathers breakfast from food left by students, patiently waiting for morsels to drop into her paws before going back to her still-snoring litter of kittens. “Minsan mahirap maghanap ng pagkain, kaya kailangan ko nang umakyat sa mga lamesa para magmakaawa sa mga estudyante,” says momma Agno Cat. After arranging breakfast, her next struggle is to wake the sleeping kittens up. “A nudge or two, just don’t do it; kailangan talaga paulit-ulit mo silang gigisingin. Sometimes they sit up, pretending to be awake, pero pag-alis mo hihiga lang sila ulit,” she says fondly. Once they’re up and groggily moving about, they settle down to pray before digging into their breakfast of all-sorts. “Kahit wala pa sila sa edad na pumapasok, tinuruan ko na sila kung paano magdasal.”
The busy gray cat then prepares herself for school. Being a young, single mother taking up BSCS (BS Catputer Science), she needs to go to class early to study, “Wala kasing wifi samin, that’s why I go to Goks at 6 to check if profs posted assignments overnight,” she says. Before leaving the litter box, which is quite literally an empty milk kariton, momma Agno Cat leaves her kittens in the care of some food vendors,who happily oblige; just as long as the little ones promise not to touch any of the food. “Mababait naman yung mga anak ko, pero minsan hindi mapipigilan yung kakulitan nila,” she shares. Her school day goes by in a blur and before she knows it, momma Agno Cat is dismissed and clocking it in for the night shift. She’s in charge of cleanup at Agno, which helps in gathering supper. “The pay isn’t much, but it’s enough to get us by,” she shares. “I’m just really thankful for my family and the fact that we have food and a roof above our heads… Lasallians treat us well, and for that, I’m very grateful.”
It’s Neko Atsume right on our own turf. Whether they’re having a ball (or coughing one out), or spending some alone time in the crannies of iconic carvings, we might learn a thing or two about life’s little pleasures from these four-legged friends. However, a friendly reminder: try not to get on their bad side, they still love their space. Watch out; kitty got claws.