Cat’s Out of the Bag: Get to know UNH’s Mascot

Our exclusive interview with everyone’s favorite fuzzball, Wild E. Cat


Courtesy of Wildcat Athletics.

Cassandra Chabot, Contributing Writer

They pull up their fur pants before stuffing his feet into Styrofoam shoes, nearly 6 inches larger than his normal size. With the plush upper body assembled, usually adorned with a jersey,  on goes the definitive head of a wild cat. 

Wild E. Cat, more specifically. 

Wild E. Cat has been a staple at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) since 2000, when the athletic department decided to revamp the cat’s appearance. It was during this time that Gnarlz, the college’s more muscular designed mascot, was also introduced.  

Gnarlz and Wild E. Cat

The UNH athletic department requested the name of the current mascot holder be kept confidential. 

Before the most recent occupant of Wild E. Cat, their older sibling played the role of UNH’s mascot for several years. Following their college graduation, it only made sense that the torch was passed down to the next attending family member. 

Once an incoming freshman, they have now served the campus as their favorite cat for four years. And today, this Wild E. Cat is the only cat there is. 

“There’s normally two or three performers, which is preferred because there are a lot of games and a lot of marketing and promotion,” Wild E. said. Currently, if Wild E. can’t be there because of scheduling conflicts, someone else in the athletic department steps in for a temporary shift. 

Initially embarking on this journey, Wild E. had to be convinced by their older sibling to step out onto the ice for their first trial in the suit. 

“I used to make fun of them for it,” Wild E. said. “But then I realized instead of watching the games I could be a part of the games.” 

With a totally new and public persona, Wild E. found joy in having a secret identity. 

 “I just love how everybody loves the mascot. I think we bring people together. I love crowd surfing at hockey games. Just because it’s not something I would do otherwise. Or, getting in  the back of pickup trucks. I also really like tailgating because you meet so many people but can’t  talk to them or really communicate,” Wild E. said. 

Wild E. compared the suit to wearing a bunch of winter coats at once. 

“It’s not the most comfortable thing when it’s like 60 degrees outside at a football game or something like that,” they said. “Or even hotter. Like last year at graduation, it was almost 100 degrees. I kept having to find somewhere to take the head off and drink some water.” 

One would think carrying the additional 20-pound weight of the suit would be the hardest part of the job, but for Wild E., it’s keeping their mouth shut and adhering to the mystery of it all.

“I’m really bad at not talking. There’s a string that tightens the top of the head and I’ll bite on that solely to keep my mouth from talking. It freaks people out when you speak,” they said.  

Instead, Wild E. tries their best to express themself through movements. 

“In the suit, you’re very muted,” they said. “What I would normally express with my arms, I have to over-exaggerate so that it looks normal because of all the padding.” 

While it works easily for communicating a photo opportunity, sometimes the point is missed altogether.  

Wild E. described a moment at a tailgate where individuals were trying to pose for a group picture but were holding alcoholic beverages. 

“One of UNH’s biggest rules is that you cannot take pictures with the mascots when alcohol is present, especially with people that they can’t discern if they are 21 or aren’t 21,” they said.

Wild E. attempted to show their disapproval for the camera by pointing at the drinks and shaking their head, no. However, without a voice, the message wasn’t clear and Wild E. had to remove themself from the situation to avoid repercussions. Disappointing fans isn’t easy. 

“I think you would be surprised as to how hard it can be,” Wild E. said. “I don’t think that it’s a hard job, but not talking and having all that extra stuff on you, it just physically drains you.”  

And it doesn’t help when people are disrespectful.  

At the first football game of the season, Wild E. had to stop students from lifting their head off multiple times, in addition to the threat of being groped. 

“It’s not portrayed much,” Wild E.  said. “But moms will slap our butts. I’ve had students climb onto me and then put their faces in mine, like, ‘I’m kissing the mascot!’” 

But those instances are far and few in-between. For Wild E., there is more to love than there is to hate.  

“As cliche as it sounds, I like to make people smile,” they said. “No one’s ever upset when they see us.”

Courtesy of Wildcat Athletics.