Amber Marienthal’s son was picking up his high school ID at Leland High School in San Jose, California, earlier this month when he saw a familiar face in the photo of another “student” ID on the table.
“He said, ‘Hey, that is my cat,’” Marienthal told ABC News, describing the reaction of her son, Matthew, a junior at the public high school.
The family’s pet cat, Bubba, has been a familiar sight on the high school campus, which backs up to the family’s backyard, since they adopted him from a shelter in 2009.
Bubba is so familiar to staff and students alike that when the photographer for the student IDs needed a test subject, Bubba was right there to fill in, hence the “student ID.”
“It’s very funny,” Marienthal said of her cat’s friendly demeanor and love for the school. “We tried to keep him as an indoor cat but he refused to stay in.”
“We didn’t realize how social he wanted to be but he goes to school every day,” she said.
Marienthal, whose other son, Mark, is a freshman at Leland, said that Bubba is often the first one at the school’s door, waiting for staff and students to arrive.
The school is an outdoor campus -- all the classrooms’ doors open outward -- so he often wanders in and out of classrooms and can frequently be found on the school’s sports fields, too.
“We have never gotten a complaint,” Marienthal said. “Now he’s a well-known figure and the kids pet him and take pictures with him but mostly leave him alone.”
“I think the kids and the teachers really enjoy it,” she said.
Bubba first followed his owners to their middle school, Bret Harte Middle School, which also backs up to the family’s home, before graduating on to Leland High along with them.
The cat’s collar says “Leland OK” and “Bret Harte OK” so that people who see him will know he’s not lost. The family’s home voicemail also includes a message that Bubba is not lost, just friendly.
“He’s like the neighborhood goodwill ambassador, I guess,” said Marienthal, who added the family’s other cat and Golden Retriever stay behind at home while Bubba mingles.
The cat has made the school’s yearbook and newspaper and was even the cover model for last year’s senior magazine. He is also the subject of his own Facebook page, which has nearly 2,400 likes and dozens of photos.
“All of the photos are real,” Marienthal said. “None are staged.”