Say hello to the University’s newest Instagram influencer — @bonnycatuva, managed by first-year College student Alex Sarchet. With over 875 followers in just one month, this popular account features daily posts of students spending time with the beloved cat , Bonny, nicknamed after the Bonnycastle dorm where the cat is often found hanging out. The adorable and friendly feline has become a first-year favorite, and Sarchet keeps the Instagram account updated with photos of Bonny submitted by students.
There is a lot of mystery surrounding this feline, as most do not know where Bonny comes from. The cat started occasionally showing up in the fall, but since winter break has been a much more consistent present. Bonny appears healthy and affectionate even though the cat does not have a collar or known home. Some students and employees at The Castle have theorized that the cat belongs to one of the residents in the neighborhood behind Bonnycastle and the Dell. Several students recently built a makeshift plastic shelter outside of The Castle, which Bonny has embraced.
Sarchet said he created the account after returning from winter break due to the cat’s newfound popularity among first-year students.
“A lot of people seemed really hype about [Bonny] the first weekend back,” Sarchet said.
Sarchet also mentioned that he was inspired by the @thesquirrelsofuva Instagram page, an account that posts student-submitted photos of squirrels around Grounds.
“I was like, ‘Someone should make a page for the cat,’ and then I decided that I might as well be the one to do it,” Sarchet said.
Sarchet was shocked by the instant popularity of the Instagram account. In a little over one month, the account has gained over 875 followers and receives over a dozen photo submissions per day.
“I guess a lot of people … like to see [their] picture be featured alongside everyone else’s,” Sarchet said. “So there’s an element of that, where people actually kind of seek out the cat just to be on the account page.”
Many first-year students love when they have Bonny sightings, partly because it feels like meeting an Instagram celebrity, but also because the cat has become a communal pet for first-years living in Old Dorms. Bonny’s social nature and friendly demeanor is appreciated by first years as a break during a hectic day.
“I think we’re all just a little pet deprived,” first-year College student Shannon Lloyd said. “People probably miss their pets back home, and Bonny is very friendly and it's also been nice out, so sometimes I read out here with the cat.”
First-year College student Grace Bower also added that Bonny helps many students combat the homesickness they feel from missing their pets at home.
“I like having the cat around because it reminds me of home and my dog,” Bower said. “The account and the cat have really built a sense of community really fast.”
Although Bonny is not always on Grounds, many students have become attached and are always on the lookout for a furry and friendly presence near The Castle.
“When I get up in the morning, I’m just like, ‘Let’s go get Starbucks and play with the cat and get my work started,’” Lloyd said. “It’s a fun thing to do.”
Thanks to Bonny and Sarchet, students have found a way to miss their pets at home a little less, and the Instagram page has given followers a way to track Bonny on Grounds even when they’re not with the cat. Perhaps one day University students will learn more about Bonny’s background and living situation. But, in the meantime, Bonny’s celebrity status continues to grow.