Updated: Sep 20
If you’ve walked past the back door of the Foutch Alumni House on the old side of campus, chances are you’ve met her.
The stray gray-and black can often be found lounging behind the building in its grassy garden and sunny walkway.
Ever since making Belmont her home at the start of the spring 2021 semester, students and staff quickly welcomed her as another university mascot.
Belle — or Mama, as some call her — is not only a friendly, furry face on campus, but many students say she helps alleviate stress caused by a busy school schedule.
“When I’m running late to class and I’m walking by and I just see a cute little cat, I’m not as stressed over class,” said freshman Samantha Weaver. “I have a lot of classes at Massey, and I live in Wright, so I kind of walk this way every day. So every time I pass by, I see her and say hi.”
Weaver, like several other students, said the stray cat brightens her day, and many love that they can have an unofficial emotional support animal to turn to whenever they need her.
“When I was actually coming here, I was looking at getting an emotional support cat but I never did. So just the comfort and being able to pet an animal and not having to take care of it all the time is just really nice,” said freshman Emily Walko.
Belmont’s favorite kitty companion originally showed up in fall 2020, said Alumni House office manager Holly Newsome.
At the time, Belle was spotted in the gardens at the front of the house alongside her two kittens, dubbed Milo and Sissy by the staff.
“When we first saw her last year, we were calling her Mama because we knew she was a mama. But then over time, I heard students start calling her Belle, and then we heard some students saying it was because of the Bell Tower,” said Newsome.
As the semester progressed, a couple came forward wanting to adopt the three cats. Belle, however, refused to be captured, so the couple took Milo and Sissy, leaving their mama behind.
Fast-forward to spring semester 2021, Belle is the queen of her own tiny kingdom and has made the walkway behind the Alumni House her place of serenity.
“She just kind of blends in to the campus community. She is back here most days and just kind of hangs out and gets her love and attention from everyone, and then I’m sure by night she goes and hangs out elsewhere. But I think she’s been a nice little addition for people, especially during COVID,” said Newsome. “I’ve heard several students say she’s kind of like a therapy animal.”
Belle is usually skittish at first when meeting new people and it usually takes her a little longer to warm up to men than to women, said Newsome.
In addition to all the attention, Belle has Belmont students waiting on her needs day in and day out, providing her food and water.
When freshman Anna Nagy first saw Belle during Towering Traditions week, she decided to nurture her.
“I’ve kind of made it my mission to stop by every day and see her, and I bring treats and stuff for her and just make sure she’s got some fresh water, and I come by and just pet her,” said Nagy.
“I was just kind of happy to have an animal to love on. I had to leave my dog back home and she was my baby. I didn’t like having to leave her behind, so having another animal that I can just kind of baby for a little bit instead definitely helps, especially since I love cats,” she said.
PHOTO: Belle snoozing in the walkway behind the Foutch Alumni House — her favorite place for a catnap. Belmont Vision / A.J. Wuest
This article was written by A.J. Wuest.