Who Went to School
|Room 8 (1947-1968) was a
neighborhood cat that wandered into a classroom at Elysian Heights
Elementary School, Echo Park, California. He would live in the school
during the school year and then disappear for the summer, returning
when classes started again.
News cameras would arrive at the school at the beginning of the year waiting for the cat's return; he became famous and would receive up to 100 letters a day addressed to him at the school. Eventually, he was featured in a documentary called "Big Cat, Little Cat" and a children's book called Room 8 was written as well. Look magazine ran a three-page feature by photographer Richard Hewett in November 1962, titled "Room 8: The School Cat". Leo Kottke wrote an instrumental called "Room 8" that was included in his 1971 album, Mudlark.
As he got older, he was injured in a cat fight and suffered from pneumonia, so a family near the school volunteered to take him in. The school's janitor would find him at the end of the school day and carry him across the street.
His obituary in the Los Angeles Times rivaled that of major political figures, running three columns with a photograph. The cat was so famous that his obituary ran in papers as far away as Hartford, Connecticut. The students raised the funds for his gravestone.
Elysian Heights Elementary School has a wall mural on the outside of the school that features Room 8, and the teachers read his book to each new class.
In 1972, a cat shelter was started in his name called The Room 8 Memorial Foundation.