Head over to the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas, California and you’ll find the graves of many famous pets, including the Little Rascals dog Pete the Pup and Tarzan star Jiggs the chimpanzee.
But one grave marker that catches many visitors’ attention is that of a cat unusually named “Room 8.” Who was this cat, and how did he get his name? Read on and learn the heartwarming story of this special cat!
In 1952, a shorthair gray striped tabby cat showed up at Elysian Heights Elementary School in Echo Park, California. As told in his 1966 biography A Cat Called Room 8, the cat walked around the room and was pet by the children. They fed the hungry cat food from their lunches and he became attached, following them around.
They named the cat “Room 8,” after their classroom, and the cat stuck around for the rest of the school year.
When the school year was through, Room 8 would disappear for the summer… only to return again when the children came back to class.
This continued for years and years, and many classes of kids got to know Room 8.
“My first recollection of Room 8 was Miss Mason introducing him to our kindergarten class,” former student Angie Nicolai recalled in a post from Explore Historic California. “I remember thinking that he was a big cat in her arms. She wanted us to know that he belonged to the school and that there may be times he would come into our classroom to visit. She put him down and he immediately jumped up on the desk next to the window to take a nap in the warm sun.”
Room 8 became a local celebrity. News cameras would show up at the school to take photos of the cat’s return. He received hundreds of letters in fan mail.
— Cats of Yore (@CatsOfYore) February 8, 2023
Room 8’s story was the subject of a documentary, a book and a three-page feature in Look magazine.
The cat resided in the classroom until the mid 1960s, when his health began to decline. He was reportedly injured in a cat fight and suffered from feline pneumonia. A family who lived near the school took him in.
Room 8 died on August 13, 1968 at the age of 21. After he died, the cat received a huge outpouring of love: he reportedly had a three-column obituary in the Los Angeles Times that received nationwide coverage, and students raised money to purchase the gravestone that is still standing.
In 1972, the Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation was set up in the cat’s honor and continues to operate today. And at Elysian Heights Elementary School, Room 8’s legacy lives on: he is featured on a mural and his pawprints are immortalized in cement in the sidewalk.
What a heartwarming story. It’s clear that Room 8 was so loved by everyone who knew him, and is still remembered by people decades later. It goes to show the impact an ordinary cat can have on countless people.
Please share this sweet story! 😸❤️