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. 

Meredith August 09, 2012 at 02:49 PM
It's unfortunate that the school administration won't bend the rules for such a sweet cat. I hope Spartaca finds a good home filled with love, food and people who will rub her belly.
Pat August 09, 2012 at 03:22 PM
It is unfortunate and a bad example to set for young people who need to understand that pets aren't disposable, and that they need to be committed to for their lifetime. San Gabriel Valley Humane Society would be happy to provide free nail trims for her or apply 'soft-paws' to her claws on a regular basis. Email us or contact us on our Facebook page.
RT August 09, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I agree with Pat. This cat's home and family is at LCHS but she will get the boot over a couple pieces of furniture? I'm glad my mom didn't give me up for adoption when I threw up on the couch. Beware of this principal people! This is only the beginning. Are there not bigger academic issues for the principal to tackle than a cat? Kudos to SGV Humane Soceity for offering to help!
Chris Evans August 09, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Let me guess .. this school has a Spartan mascot, someone festooned with chintzy armor and a plastic sword, running around at games. Seems to me this cat is more of a mascot than the student du jour in the tin foil could ever be. She's not a pet, she's a member of the team, fer cryin out loud!! What's the matter with this guy in the office?! Looks like the whole team has a case of Athlete's McFeat .. by the way, how come no one's ever come up with mouse flavored cat food?
Elizabeth Nazarian August 09, 2012 at 05:14 PM
What a sad example this new McFeat is setting for the students and staff of the school. I'm glad I'm not his mother - when the going gets a little rough, he disposes of the cat, one who, from the article was welcomed by a staff member. This is not a "new stray" that has come upon the property. The cat seems to have been well cared for and loved by all who knew him before the entrance of McFeat. If no one is able or willing to adopt him, please let me know. I can make room in my home for a loving creature of God.
Todd August 09, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Mr. McFeat is teaching exactly the right lessons to students in this situation - don't bend rules because of sentimentality or because a decision is difficult. Failing to act when something is wrong is the same as making the same poor decision over and over again. The cat should have never been on campus to begin with and the rodent problem should have been addressed in the right way at the outset. The decision that has been made is not to dispose of Spartaca, but rather to find her a new and caring home. I've been around Mr. McFeat enough to know that, if no one steps up with such a home, he would probably adopt it himself. As for other pressing academic issues, there are many. However, this decision is such a no-brainer, it shouldn't have diverted more than 60 seconds of thought. Other pressing academic issues are plagarism, other forms of cheating and grade inflation - or are these merely bending the rules?
Nicole Charky August 09, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Oh no!
Katherine Oliai August 09, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Shame on Principal Ian McFeat, for teaching our students that a loving pet of 9 years is disposable due to a new sofa. Shame...shame...shame.
VisualKaos August 09, 2012 at 06:07 PM
"We can't really have pets on campus; just at a basic level, we can't do that.'' That sounds like a lame excuse for "I'm the new boss and I don't like cats." If everybody has been OK with Spartaca living there for years, including the former principal then clearly this self-important new principal is just being arrogant. McFeat, go find another job.
carol ann mollett August 09, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Spartaca is a wonderful kitty and we are looking for a new loving home for her. It is very unforunate when live situations change and changes have to be made. We just want to find a new home for this sweet kitty!! Carol Mollett
Donna Evans (Editor) August 09, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Elizabeth, that's wonderful to hear! I'll stay on top of anyone who emails me about taking her home and let you know! I understand she's got a bag of food and a bag of kitty litter all ready to go. @Pat thank you for the offer of claw trimming. I'll email the coach!
Elizabeth Nazarian August 09, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Thank you Donna. I already have litter boxes and one bag of kitty litter. My previous 2 cats lived to be 21 and 19, respectively. I gave them a loving home and they thrived. Please keep me posted. I've been considering adopting a pet again. This could be the right fit!!!!!
Katherine Oliai August 09, 2012 at 06:30 PM
I agree. This cat didn't just show up. She has made her home here for 9 years! Get her some catnip and a scratching post. Say the word and I'll donate it. This is not a good life lesson that is being taught here.
Donna Evans (Editor) August 09, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I think it's kismet!! How awesome! Please email me your contact info, an email and phone number, and I'll connect with the folks on the other end and we'll get Spartaca a new pad! Thanks! donna.evans@patch.com
Elizabeth Nazarian August 09, 2012 at 07:04 PM
I looked up the word Spartan to find out its meaning. My dictionary says, "Of or pertaining to Sparta, an ancient city of southern Greece; suggestive of the ancient Spartans in simplicity, austerity, and discipline; brave; stoical."
VisualKaos August 09, 2012 at 10:25 PM
This is a pet cat, not some disease-ridden vermin that could potentially infect the students. I think it's awesome that somebody will adopt this kitty but I also think it's more about ego than some draconian rules that may or may not even exist.
Zelda Diamond August 09, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Almost akin to painting over the art mural several years back. Out with the old and in with the new...in this case, sadly, a sofa over a kitty who has apparently served her purpose. So sad!!
Elaine La August 09, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Almost akin to painting over the art mural several years back. Out with the old and in with the new...in this case, sadly, a sofa over a kitty who has apparently served her purpose. So sad!!
Linda Silvestri August 09, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Someone mentioned "the rodent problem should have been addressed in the right way at the outset..." instead of bringing in a cat. What right way? Poison? I think the decision to bring in a cat was a brilliant way to address the rodent problem and it also gave a kitty a home. I understand there are rules, but rules are meant for solving or preventing problems. So what problems, other than protecting a new couch is this rule addressing? Sounds like the new boss is simply marking his territory, (so to speak.) Hope Spartaca finds a great home!
Elizabeth Nazarian August 09, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Why did they buy new furniture to begin with? Could they have bought something that's not likely to be shredded, as in vinyl? Or even a slip cover or sturdy plastic to project the furniture. When I was in elementary school, we had a pet rabbit that was kept there. Her name was Rosie and I still remember her well. The children and parents enjoyed her and we all learned the value of life; the value of pets; and the comraderie and purposes in life we all can learn from. I thought there are so many budget cuts that are truly necessary. And, as for Mr. McFeat being willing to adopt the cat should no one else do so; all I can say is this his present history and the feelings of all those who have expressed their thoughts, I say, Perish the Thought. I'm concerned about how he feels about God's Creatures.
Melinda Ebelhar August 10, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Fire the principal and start over. He's an arrogant jerk who thinks he knows better than everyone else, and clearly has no compassion for those with no power -- true test of character. Glad my kids are out of that school; this is not a role model I would want for them!
Furball Jones August 10, 2012 at 06:09 AM
To-do List for Mr. McFeat 1. Get rid of cat 2. Attend to rat problem 3. Repair reputation
Julia August 14, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I can't believe this thread. Over 20 posts about a cat. Yet what looks to be a great hire of a new history teacher at LCHS doesn't get one comment. And some here are complaining about priorities? Assuming the new principal made a great decision in hiring Mr. Beaty (the new history teacher), and also made the decision to find a new home for a cat (not disposing it), which has a bigger impact on our students? If you're going to publicly bash him for doing something you disagree with, then also applaud him just as loud when he does something positive. The Patch should be applauded for giving the community the opportunity to comment on a positive story of hiring a great history teacher. The community should reflect on why they don't take advantage of that opportunity.
Elizabeth Nazarian August 14, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I believe there was a separate story on the Patch about the hiring of a new history teacher. Perhaps that's where the accolades for Mr. McFeat went. I chose to adopt Spartaca and she has been living with me since Saturday. Mr. McFeat had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do in helping Spartaca find a new home other than prompting the writing of a story about the cat. It was reading the comments of the concerned parents of the school and the football coach that prompted my actions. I can't answer for why the community has or has not responded to the hiring of Mr. Beaty. Perhaps it's because they haven't seen him in action yet. Signed, Mom of Spartaca
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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