The Alamo’s latest defender has four legs
When people remember the Alamo, they usually think Davy Crockett or, maybe for less than heroic reasons, Ozzy Osbourne.
But the centuries-old former church -- turned battleground of Texas independence -- turned tourist attraction -- has a new celebrity pawing its grounds: C.C. the cat.
The cat has entered media-mogul status. After news articles ran in Texas newspapers and online on pet websites last year, visitors from throughout the U.S. and Europe have come to see the cat and take photos. One visitor made a quilt in her honor; it's on display in a shrine to the cat at the gift shop (pictured below) and C.C. has a popular line of calendars, bookmarks, ornaments and stuffed animals in her likeness that’s nearly sold out.
Like a true diva, she has gone through drama.
The 12-pound, black-and-white cat with vibrant golden eyes was feral and unkempt when she first pawed her way into the Alamo and hissed at anyone who came near her, said Pattie Sandoval, one of C.C.’s caretakers and the complex’s benefits coordinator. Then she lost her first litter of kittens, which all died shortly after she started frequenting the grounds.
"She was kind of a wild child," Sandoval said. "But she’s reinvented herself –- maybe that was one of her nine lives."
After C.C. gave birth to her second litter of kittens, all healthy and eventually adopted, she was spayed in 1997 and became much more personable, Sandoval said.
For the past 11 years, she’s become known for lounging on the grounds and greeting tourists, when she's not chasing or killing rodents, some of which she drags into the gift shop to show off how she’s still earning her keep.
And she’s bilingual, understanding commands in Spanish from maintenance workers, Sandoval said.
"She’s loved whether she catches mice or not, because she’s just part of the Alamo family," said Sally Koch, educational programs coordinator. "I think her presence humanizes the Alamo. Some people that visit don’t have cats or even like them, but smile when they see her."
The Alamo has a history with the feline kind: A Mexican soldier wrote in one of his diaries during the battle of the Alamo in 1836 that he saw a cat roaming the grounds. Taking it a sign of bad luck, Mexican troops shot and killed the cat.
A much more peaceful rendezvous came more than 150 years later when, in the 1980s, a cat named Ruby Le Gato was adopted by the security officers and earned a “certificate of completion” from San Antonio College’s Basic Security Officer Training Course for her guarding abilities. Her tale inspired Rita Kerr's book “The Alamo Cat” and a bronze plaque marks her final resting place on the shrine’s grounds.
--Francisco Vara-Orta, reporting from San Antonio, Texas
The shrine in the gift shop
Photo at top of post: Ernesto Rodriguez/The Alamo
Photo of shrine: Francisco Vara-Orta/Los Angeles Times
Photo of quilt: Rusty Gamez/The Alamo