By Emily Blackner
Lounging in a chair with one foot crossed primly over the other, the Rose O’Neill Literary House’s new cat, Langston Hughes, already looks at home. Students feel that he is already a part of the community.
Langston’s journey to the Lit House began on Aug. 30, when Kathryn Bursick, Assistant Director of the Lit House, received a phone call from John Wagner, Washington College’s waterfront director.
“John Wagner of the WC boat house contacted us to say that a cat had been abandoned there. It had litter, food, a collar but no tag, and no one had come back for it for days,” Bursick said.
Bursick originally had no intention of replacing Edith Wharton, the Lit House’s previous cat. Edith, a black and white female who resided at the Lit House for 17 years before passing away last May. Many students remember Edith for her regular attendance at Lit House events and her love of roast beef. “She reminded me of my cat at home,” said junior Derek Anzalone.
Many who passed through the Lit House doors sensed Edith’s absence.
Lit House Director Mark Nowak said, “For the couple of months we didn’t have a cat, it felt like there was a hole.” This feeling,combined with the abandoned cat’s plight, convinced Bursick to visit the boat house.
After the cat proved to be friendly, he was taken to the vet.
The brown tabby male is between five and six years old, and had already been neutered. Despite his ordeal, he was in good health, if a little overweight; Langston weighs 15 pounds.
“We are going on a diet,” Bursick said. After Langston moved in, staff members set about choosing a name for him. The name not only needed to be literary-assosicated, but it also had to fit the cat’s personality.
“He’s a big cuddly cat so he needs a big cuddly name,” Bursick said, and Langston Hughes (who was a famous poet from the Washington, D.C. area) fit the bill.
Langston’s transition to life at the Lit House has gone relatively smooth.
“He probably feels like the incoming students: excited, nervous, getting used to the environment, and every day he feels more comfortable,” Nowak said. Although he currently spends most of his time napping on the second floor, Langston is making more frequent trips to the ground floor to interact with students. “He’s skittish about noises but loves cuddles,” Bursick said.
Members of the WC community are already fond of Langston. Freshman Katrynna Trost was excited to meet him. “I’ve always been a cat person,and I love it that we have a cat on campus,” she said. “When Langston let me pet him I immediately felt a bond between us,” Anzalone said.
Edith is still present in students’ minds, but they are accepting of Langston.
“Langston is already more of a diva than Edith was,” senior Mike Meyer said, after fondly brushing Langston. Junior Kristina Gavin said, “Langston can’t replace Edith, but I think he’ll make a great addition to the house.”