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, firstname.lastname@example.org, for contact information.