Room 8

Painting of Cat 1947-1968

Room 8’s official portrait.
(Photo by Roger W. Vargo)

Room 8 (1947-1968), a neighborhood grey and white tabby, gained his name by entering a 6th grade classroom designated as Room 8 in the Elysian Heights Elementary School in Echo Park, California in 1952. When he entered the classroom, he was quite thin, but that didn’t last for long. The children commenced to share their lunches with him and eventually he became plump. After he became the school mascot, an official “Cat Feeder” was appointed from the student body. This post was held with much respect and importance.

It was discovered by one of the teachers that Room 8 had been born in 1947 and was about 5 years old when he made the school his home. Oddly enough, he seemed to disappear during the summers but always reappeared in the fall with the beginning of the new school year.

 

Sep. 14, 1964 The Elysian Heights Elementary catches a cat nap while a first grade class performs the flag salute. (John Malmin Los Angeles Times)

Sep. 14, 1964 The Elysian Heights Elementary mascot catches a cat nap while a first grade class performs the flag                                                                        salute. (John Malmin, Los Angeles Times)

 

Staff and Students with Room 8, 1962

As the years passed, Room 8’s fame grew. In 1962, Look Magazine published a three page article on him titled Room 8: The School Cat. He was also featured in a TV documentary, Big Cat Little Cat. And in 1966, two teachers, Virginia Finley and Beverly Mason published a book A Cat Called Room 8. Throughout his lifetime, Room 8 received more than 10,000 letters as fan mail.

Looking over his fan mail at Elysian Heights School on September 14, 1964. (Photo Art Worden-Herald-Examiner Collection -LAPL Archive).

 

1966-Held by Cheryl Bates, 11, in front of bungalow at Elysian Heights Elementary School. Los Angeles Times

While attending the summer school session in 1968, Room 8 died at the ripe old age of 21 from kidney failure on August 13. He was honored with a three column obituary in the Los Angeles Times, and it was run in other papers as well. Room 8 was buried at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in the presence of a small number of people including the Nakano family who had cared for him in his last years. They placed a small bouquet of flowers from their garden that he loved sniffing on his grave. Students raised the funds for his headstone which stands prominently in the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas.

 

cat Eulogy

 

Room 8’s legacy lives on today in the form of The Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation which was started in 1972.

Room 8 is also memorialized at The Elysian Heights Elementary School.  A large mural painted on the outside of the school reflects his larger than life presence. Additionally, a sculpture, poems etched in the sidewalk in front of the school and photographs of the cat can be seen in the school hallways. Room 8 will never be forgotten.

A distinguished portrait, in color, at Elysian Heights Elementary(Photo Lori Galarreta-KPCC)

 

A portrait outside room 8 classroom. (Photo Lori Galarreta-KPCC)

 

 

Want to know more about the cat in art, history and literature? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 

 

 

Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats

 

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