Odd News Show

Summa Cat Laude: Vermont State University Confers Honorary Degree on Local Kitty Boy

In Western Vermont, Max the cat just became the first in his (birth) family to earn a college degree.

By Katie Compa · May 22, 2024

That's Doctor Max. Photochem_PA/Wikimedia Commons

Castleton, Vermont, not far from the New York State border, is where Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys prepared to capture Fort Ticonderoga during the American Revolution. (This is obviously something we knew already and did not learn moments ago after first thinking of the mid-range furniture label by the same name.)

The village also houses a campus of Vermont State University which has just conferred an honorary degree on an important member of the community: Max the Cat. The university bestowed the title of “doctor of litter-ature” upon Max, which for a team of odd news reporters like ourselves is, of course, catnip.

With his local and international headline-making rizz, Max is decidedly an academic luminary in good company: other notable Castleton alumni include baseball pitcher Chad Bentz as well as hip-hop originator and Boogie Down Productions DJ Scott La Rock (RIP).

Though Max has a comfortable home near the Castleton campus with a human family, the Dows, for the last four years he’s also had a side job—not with PostMates or Uber, but as the university’s unofficial mayor and the only BCOC (big cat on campus). He regularly ventures out to greet the public, pose for photos, and, according to his parents, even ride around on students’ backpacks. 

“What can I say, college kids love my vibe. See you at the protest later?”  monkeywing/Flickr

Max’s family even says he gets visibly bummed out in the summers when the campus empties out. And the feeling is mutual—once, when Max was gone from campus for a month (he wasn’t away, he just wasn’t feeling it), the students erected a shrine in an effort to lure him back.

Though we’re glad to see academia recognize the agency and achievements of our furry friends, in the spirit of full coverage, we should mention as well that the current school’s brand is the result of a recent and controversial merger combining three previously existing schools. This merger resulted in cutting intercollegiate athletics and reducing the academic program offerings by over half. But look, a kitty!!!!!

All of that is, of course, no fault of Max’s. We wish him all the best, along with his loved ones, in all future endeavors. Upsettingly, Max evidently did not wear a tiny mortarboard to attend the graduation ceremony; instead, the school dropped off his diploma at his parents’ house.

Not Max. Booooooo!  sk/Flickr