Credit: Benson Hendrix

For more than a decade, a group of furry friends have greeted students, staff and faculty as they walked between the Center for the Arts complex and the water reservoir behind Popejoy Hall.

These clever kitties thrived as the unofficial mascots of the College of Fine Arts (CFA). Most recently, a mother, her son and daughter have resided in the rocky embankments—warming in the sun on car hoods and enjoying the occasional unstinting open can of cat food left on the berm by a kindhearted member of the UNM community familiar with their unregistered residence.

A little wooden shelter was also constructed by Daniel Richmond, an MFA student in the Sculpture Department, about six years ago to help house these cats from the elements.

CFA Cats
The CFA cats basking in the afternoon sun on a car hood.  

But progress prevails over purrs, as the initial phase of transforming this site into a new, and needed, Physics & Astronomy Interdisciplinary Science building has begun. 

Out of a caring concern for all campus critters— but these cats specifically— Judi Mersereau from UNM Public Events and staff from CFA, including Kat Heatherington and Diana Gourlay, devised a plan to safely relocate them to a friendly barn sanctuary south of Albuquerque.

UNM cat at Mandy's Farm
The mother cat getting used to her new home at Mandy's Farm. 

“I will miss having them here,” said Mersereau. “They walk with their tails intertwined—people always stop and take photos of them.”

It took quite a bit of persuading by Mersereau, but the cats were eventually collected and transported to Mandy’s Farm, a nonprofit organization that assists individuals with developmental disabilities by structuring a positive, purposeful and caring environment for living, learning and working.

Mandy's barn manager is Sarah Rose, a College of Fine Arts MFA Painting alumna who made it possible for the farm to provide a loving home for the cat family. 

Though their friendly feline faces will be missed, the UNM community should know these college cats have graduated to a new and happy home.