Once Feral Cat Earned an Honorary Doctorate from a University in Five Years


For university students, the sight of a cat or dog on campus often brings a comforting reminder of home. Max, a formerly feral kitten from Castleton, Vermont, has taken this role to a whole new level. In just five years, he’s become a master of relieving stress and boosting morale, so much so that he’s been awarded an honorary doctorate!

Dr. Max Is the Big Cat on Campus

Not long ago, Max the tabby was a feral kitten in nearby Fair Haven. He was very fortunate to find a loving home with Ashley Dow, who lives on a street steps away from the main entrance to Vermont State University’s Castleton campus.

Around the age of one, Max began making a habit of exploring the campus. One of the family members, Kaitlyn Tanner, attended the college and enjoyed seeing him there, along with his brother Flash, a tuxedo cat rescued from the same place.

Max with his siblings (Flash on the right) at home via YouTube/WCAX-TV

His exceptionally friendly nature endeared him to all the students, who eagerly anticipated his daily appearances. Over the next four years, he became a familiar face and continued offering his emotional support services all on his own.

“I was asked, ‘What’s your affiliation with the college?’ I was like, ‘My cat is the emotional support animal,’” Ashley Dow said. “He likes to be carried around on backpacks. Students pick him up, and he crawls up on their backs.”

An Honorary Doctorate in Litter-ature

On May 19, 2024, the university presented Max Dow with a framed certificate, a Doctor of Litter-ature. The prestigious title wouldn’t be complete without “catnip perks, scratching post privileges, and litter box responsibilities that come with it.”

The university bestowed Dr. Max Dow with “a resounding purr of approval from the faculty, the Board of Trustees, and the Vermont State Cat-leges.”

Images via Facebook/Vermont State University Castleton Campus

Unlike most students, the kitty’s diploma was hand-delivered to his Mom following graduation.

Video by WBNS 10TV about Max’s honorary degree:

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