Texas A&M’s Bisbee, R.I.P.

The feral cat and unofficial campus mascot was found dead on Thursday, but he's still got eight more lives on Twitter. An interview with @AggieBisbee. 
Fri July 20, 2012 8:53 pm
Twitter | alicia_cronin

The feral cat and unofficial Texas A&M campus mascot Bisbee, named for his favorite napping spot near the Biological Sciences Building East, was found dead Thursday, as Aaron Deering of The Battalion reported

A staple of campus tours, the (not-burnt) orange-and-white cat had been missing for at least a week, with students, A&M employees and even university president R. Bowen Loftin putting out the call to find him.

As Matthew Watkins of the  Bryan-College Station Eagle wrote, Bisbee had been semi-adopted by the Aggie Feral Cat Alliance of Texas, which helps to vaccinate, spay/neuter and (when possible) find homes for feral cats. According to Watkins, Bisbee’s age was estimated to be between 10 and 13 years old—fairly advanced for an outdoor, undomesticated cat. 

But Bisbee was also beloved through the Twitter account @AggieBisbee, which has always been a blend of cuteness, snark and Aggie passion. It currently has more than 3,000 followers, and will continue to live on.

The TM Daily Post spoke to its author, who, as you will see from the first question, prefers to stay anonymous:

So, tell us your name, if you are willing to share it, or if not, just what generally connects you to Texas A&M.

I am a current student at Texas A&M, involved as a leader in a couple of major student organizations, as well as a campus employee.

But part of the magic of the @aggiebisbee Twitter account is that no one really believes that they are actually conversing with a feral cat, but, at the same time I think people liked to believe or at least pretend that Bisbee was actually conversing with them. We all talk to our pets from time to time and tell them all kinds of things, so how great would it be if they did talk back to us?

I had a coworker find out that I was behind the @aggiebisbee account, and he seemed genuinely disappointed. He knew that cats don’t use computers, much less tweet, but he liked to imagine that Bisbee was sitting in the bushes with an iPad, tapping out snarky comments in a Keyboard Cat sort of way.

When did you personally first meet or become aware of Bisbee?

You know, for me, Bisbee was always just “there.” He was something that I knew about from the early days of setting foot on campus, so I don’t really recall the first time I came across him. I was never just walking across campus and surprised to see a cat in the bushes, so I must have heard about him from somewhere early on. 

My path through campus doesn’t take me by BSBE most days, so actually seeing the cat was a rare treat and privilege. Even though I brought him Twitter fame, he still treated me no different than anyone else, meaning I occasionally got the cold shoulder, a bite, or a scratch.

But, that was the fun of Bisbee. You never knew what kind of personality he might have that day, and whether or not you would get to pet him. Unless, of course, you were feeling down and wanted some company. In that case, it seems he was usually in a very docile mood.

One time, after getting my Aggie Ring, I thought it would be a great idea to take a picture of Bisbee holding the Ring. I had been tweeting about how much he wanted an Aggie Ring of his own (the answer from @AggieNetwork was that he had to earn 90 hours, or 10 hours per life), so I thought it would be fun for him to finally have earned a Ring.

I tried a couple of things, but finally ended up putting my Ring on his belly and taking a couple of pics. As I was reviewing the pictures, he rolled over in the bushes, laying on top of my brand new Aggie Ring! I tried rolling him back over or getting him to move, but he just swatted at me. I’m not sure if he just wanted a nap, or if he really did want my Ring for his own, but I eventually got it back.

And when did you start the Twitter account?

I’ve had the Twitter account open for right about a year. I remember being in my office and some coworkers were reading some Tweets from @reveilleviii and laughing. I had never used Twitter, but I thought, “I can probably do a better job, even with a lesser-known character.” So, I started thinking about a persona I could create.

Bisbee was kind of a gamble. How much could the cat who you pet on the way to class really have to say? Well, almost 5,800 Tweets later, I guess he probably had too much to talk about! I wondered how many people actually knew of Bisbee and would follow the account. It turns out that many, many people loved him, even those who have never met him.

Some of my favorite tweets were some of the early ones. I tried to put some good stuff out there to get people to retweet me to gain some followers. After the first week I thought that I might have run out of stuff to tweet about, but something always came to mind. I started interacting with Aggies, especially students, started promoting sports and campus activities, and gave a commentary about current issues. The one thing about Aggieland is there is always something going on worth talking about.

I also wrote a great number

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