South of the Nebraska City Union, the bushes start to wiggle. A face pops out and looks around cautiously. In one fluid move, David Turnot emerges and starts walking. He’s late for biology class.
Turnot, a junior film studies major, is currently being raised by Husker cats, the wild cats that live on campus.
“They chose me when I was a freshman,” Turnot said as he licked the back of his hands. “I got lost looking for the bookstore in the Union. I opened an unmarked door, saw a blur of black movement and woke up three hours later in their lair.”
Turnot wouldn’t say exactly where the “lair” was, hinting that it was near Kauffman hall, but he was willing to recall his experiences there.
“When I awoke, the four elder cats were standing over me,” Turnot explained. “I remember trying to move, but the elders put their paws on me and a calm came over my body. I understood what was happening. I was becoming a part of the clowder.”
From there, the cats taught Turnot of their ways. They taught him to stalk and hunt. They showed him how to be moody and sporadic to draw interest from others. As Turnot became more and more wrapped in this feline world, he said his normal life became less important.
“I can’t look back at what I was,” Turnot hissed. “I won’t.”
Turnot highlighted some of the changes in lifestyle, including the way he walks, talks and dresses. The biggest change, however, has been diet.
“I didn’t know it was possible to love tuna this much,” Turnot said with a grin. “And how about that Fancy Feast stuff? I don’t know if fancy is a strong enough word for it.
“I still like human food too, though. Especially lasagna,” he added.
Turnot claimed to have grown a tail this past spring, but had it snipped off in the spirit of his fellow Husker cats.
“It’s a rite of passage, really,” Turnot explained. “You aren’t really in until the tail comes off.”
As content as Turnot has been with his life, others can be startled by the eccentric habits he has developed.
“He yawns basically all the time,” said Sarah Juno, who shares a class with Turnot. “Sometimes he uses a pen to draw whiskers on his face.”
“And no one in class falls asleep faster than him, especially if he’s sitting in a sun beam,” she added.
Turnot said that despite the odd stares he may receive when leaping after a squirrel or the gasps from fellow students when he slides back under the bush that doubles as his home, he’s happy with his feline family.
“I don’t expect others to understand,” Turnot said while absentmindedly playing with a mouse corpse. “Sometimes life takes you in a direction that you don’t understand.”
“Luckily, I seem to keep landing on my feet,” he added.