Just a few months ago a little calico named Zoey made headlines in New Orleans when she attended a Saints NFL game with her owner. Then, the cat was an officially sanctioned guest. This past Sunday? Not so much.
Sports fans and Kansas City Chiefs followers on social media were treated to the sight of a cat, this time a tortoiseshell. She enjoyed Arrowhead Stadium seating in the lap of a Green Bay Packers fan, surrounded by a sea of Chiefs’ red and gold. In the photo, the cat looks up at the human holding him as if questioning his taste in attire. (The Chiefs’ opponent that day, for whatever it’s worth, was the Oakland Raiders.)
The Instagram photo was followed by a series of tweets as questions flooded in, asking how the man sneaked the cat in past security. It turns out he didn’t.
A Kansas City Chiefs spokesman told a local TV station that stray cats have been found from time to time on stadium grounds — usually in the parking area. This was the first time one had been seen inside the stands during a game, though one Facebook member involved with the remodel of the stadium said crews had seen several cats roaming the stadium while working there. (In another Oakland coincidence, stray cats entering the field during a baseball game at what’s now called the O.co Coliseum — where the Raiders also play — eventually led then-Oakland A’s Manager Tony LaRussa to found the Animal Rescue Foundation in nearby Walnut Creek.)
Tori Fugate of Kansas City Pet Project, the no-kill animal shelter located about a half mile south of the stadium, told me, “a few cats have been known to make Arrowhead their home for many years now.” In fact, when she worked for the Chiefs a few years back, she would occasionally catch a glimpse of one.
Reports from people attending the game and tweeting about the cat indicate the declawed tortoiseshell was found on a ramp leading up to the stands. The Packers fan in the Instagram photo tucked her into his jacket after his girlfriend found her, then they both continued to their seats to watch the game with their newfound buddy.
Samantha Blood, the girlfriend, posted on Twitter “I found the cat and it was going to jump so I went and picked it up.” Such a jump can be dangerous for a kitty at Arrowhead Stadium, as the ramp leading to the stands spiral up the outside exterior of the structure. That could be a long — and risky — leap for a cat to make.
The couple took the cat to security and asked whether they could hold the cat during the game. Security said yes. Nicole added that “they were the ones who told us the cat could sit with us! They were so nice to us!” Later on, she posted this video on Twitter of the cat they named Arrow.
In an audio interview with a reporter from KSHB in Kansas City, Blood said she and her boyfriend sat with the kitty in their laps, feeding it cheese from their pretzel. A fan seated below donated a coat to help keep the cat warm.
The social media flurry caught the attention of security, and during the fourth quarter, staffers visited the couple. They were attracting so much attention, Nicole said, that security suggested they leave. They agreed, but then the cat “jumped out of my boyfriend’s arms and ran away from us when we got outside of the game,” Nicole tweeted. “No clue where it is now but I hope she is safe. … She was super nice and we miss her!”
It sounds as if Arrow is comfortable enough with humans to be adopted by a family. We hope she finds her way to KC Pet Project in time to watch the Chiefs beat the Houston Texans next weekend in the wildcard game from the warmth and comfort of her own home.
All of Arrow’s feline family living at the stadium probably don’t share her opinion of humans, though. That’s why KC Pet Project has a barn cat program to place unsocialized kitties in outdoor or barn homes where they will thrive.
“If the Arrowhead cats were to make their way to KC Pet Project,” Fugate said, “the shelter would strive to place them in the best homes that they could go to.”
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About Lisa Richman: Writer, director, pilot, foodie, cat person. When she’s not on set, this director of film and video can usually be found taking photos of cats (and food) with her trusty Nikon, or cruising aloft at 3,000 feet. She’s cat mom to an opinionated Tonkinese, a hearing-impaired Siamese, and a feline fashionista. She’s also the owner of a recently launched humor blog, and the Cat Writer’s 2014 Entertainment Blog, A Tonk’s Tail.