Live Wildcats

Maizie, 1927-29

A few months after the wildcat had been selected as the UNH mascot, some students heard an adult wildcat had been captured by a farmer in Meredith, NH. The Blue Key, a senior honor society, took up a collection from the student body. Three students were soon dispatched to purchase the cat.

The cat, whom they named Maizie, made her debut at the 1927 homecoming game. Maizie was exhibited at all home games, but people were warned to stay well away from her cage for their own safety. After the football season, she was placed under the care of Benson's Animal Farm in Hudson, NH, where she died during the winter of 1929.

The Blue Key had her body stuffed and mounted. Maizie now resides in the Milne Special Collections and Archives in Dimond Library.

Skippy, 1932-33

The second wildcat, originally named Bozo, was purchased from Benson's Animal Farm in 1932. The students agreed to rename the cat for the first player to score a touchdown for NH. That honor went to Robert Haphey '35 and the cat was called by his nickname, Skippy.

Skippy disappeared in the spring of 1933. The students never discovered what happened to him.

Butch I, 1934

Butch I
The third wildcat, bought in 1934, was again to be named for the first man to score for New Hampshire in the Maine game. The first score was a field goal, so there was some dispute as to whether the wildcat should be named Henry, for the man who kicked the field goal, or Charles, for the man who made the first touchdown.

The Blue Key proposed a compromise by naming it "Butch," after popular Head Coach William Cowell. Every live wildcat thereafter was called Butch.

Butch II, 1939-40

Butch II
Butch II was the only mascot to suffer the indignity of being kidnapped by a rival college. In 1939, a week before a game against Harvard, the cat was discovered missing from his cage behind the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house. Both Tufts (which had just lost to UNH) and Harvard were considered likely culprits, but searches for the cat in Boston and Cambridge came up empty.

Three days later, an insurance salesman was surprised to discover a wildcat inside a small carrying box abandoned in his garage in Woburn, MA. The cat was hungry and thirsty but otherwise unharmed.

Despite the fact that in large letters on top of the cage was written "HARVARD-60, N.H.-0," Harvard denied any involvement, stating that they had enough cats at Harvard already without adding a wild one to the collection.

The Blue Key held various fundraisers to help defray the cost of keeping the wildcats and the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity took charge of their daily care and training.

With moderate success, the cats were controlled on the field with a chain leash and a stick, but none of the wildcats ever got used to the noise from the crowd or the band. The sight of the cringing, frightened animal was more distressing than inspiring to some of the football fans. Once the football season ended, the animals were boarded at Benson's or another local zoo.

Butch III, 1940

The last live wildcat, purchased in 1940, lived on campus for only a week before it died. The Blue Key vowed to replace it, but instead they took to heart the words from 'A Student' who wrote, "the well-intentioned persistence of Blue Key in attempting to keep a mascot not susceptible to domestication seems to many of us, in view of the net results, very unwise."

Fudge, 1970

In 1970, the tradition of displaying a live wildcat at athletic events was briefly revived. Jackson Chick of Somersworth, NH, bought a six-week old wildcat kitten in Texas while making a film on the life of a wildcat.

The cat, named Fudge by a granddaughter, was raised by his family and became tame towards humans. (The family had him declawed to spare the furniture and drapes). Although not an alumnus, Chick was an avid UNH fan and offered to bring his pet wildcat to campus to serve as the mascot.

Fudge made the sideline rounds for only one football season. Like its predecessors, it never got used to the size and noise of the crowds.

Mystery Cat

Mystery stuffed cat Athletes with mystery stuffed cat
The origins of this wildcat that was displayed in the trophy case in the Field House for many years remains a mystery. There is no mention in university records of any wildcat, other than Maizie, being preserved after its death.