Gasps of horror echoed throughout the student section as a cat clung to the upper level facade before falling to the section below in the first half of Saturday night’s football game between the University of Miami and Appalachian State at Hard Rock Stadium.
Sophomore Emilia Weiss, a certified emergency veterinary medic, was sitting in a different section near the falling cat and jumped into action when she realized it was hanging from its neck.
“I was sitting there the whole time and I was like, I’m certified in this situation to help animals, so I don’t know if I should go over there or if they got it, until I saw the cat hanging by its neck and then by its paw and I was like Ok, this cat is not okay. I need to go over there immediately,” she said.
In most videos of the incident, the cat can be seen landing on an outstretched American flag used by a pair of attendees as a makeshift net, and bouncing down a level to a group of waiting UM students.
Ross Bunch, a freshman biology major who can be seen in videos of the incident in a black Miami Heat jersey, was sitting near the Cat’s landing place and said he was initially confident the cat would be saved.
— Hollywood (@DannyWQAM) September 11, 2021
“I was like, ‘Ok, they can catch it,’ and then I saw the cat’s neck get caught on what looked like a zip tie and I was like, ‘Oh my god, the cat might die,’” Bunch said. “Then once it started to loosen up, it looked like the flag was in the wrong spot and I thought they were not going to catch the cat.”
The cat hit the American flag and bounced off, landing hard on its feet on the concrete level below, said Bunch.
“At first I was like ‘did the cat just die?’ In the video you can see me put my hands over my mouth. Then I saw it stand up and I jumped up and I was like ‘oh my god we saved the cat.’ I went over and started cheering with everyone cause, you know, the cat was alive. It was pretty amazing.”
After a man in an orange UM jersey held up the cat like Simba from The Lion King, a middle-aged woman grabbed the cat, Weiss said.
“I saw this lady grab the cat, and I go up to her and I’m like, ‘Hey I’m certified in emergency vet med, I worked in an emergency hospital for pets, please let me take care of this cat. I know what to do.’”
Weiss examined the cat for injuries with another UM student certified to practice emergency veterinary medicine. The student held the front of the cat and kept its jaw shut so it couldn’t bite, while Weiss held its back and examined the cat’s spine and hips.
“I saw one of the hips was out of place so I popped it back into place,” Weiss said.
While Weiss was relocating the cat’s hip, a middle aged female UM fan approached her and tried to grab the cat away, Weiss said, causing the cat to freak out and bite a UM student.
“Her hand got bitten up really badly, I felt so bad for her,” Weiss said. “We put the cat on the ground for a second because the poor girl was getting attacked.
The cat then ran into the corner before biting Weiss’ arm while she reached to pick it up. When she managed to catch the cat, it appeared very scared and tried to bite her friend’s arm, Weiss said. She then put the cat on the ground and checked its collar for the owner’s information, but all she found was a rubber-like collar around its neck.
The cat proceeded to run into the student section, Weiss said, and bite two more people.
— Yianni Laros (@Yiannithemvp) September 11, 2021
“I told the security guard, ‘you need to call an animal hospital right now. I don’t know if the cat is rabid or anything,’” she said. “It didn’t have any spinal injury, so it was functionally okay, but I didn’t know if it had any diseases.”
Weiss later took the girl who was helping her to the medic at Hard Rock Stadium to treat her cat bites. The girl and her friend both went to the hospital later that night and received six shots, and need three more later in the week.
“I’ve never had to use my knowledge of emergency vet med,” said Weiss, who initially got certified at UM through the marine mammal rescue team. “It was the weirdest experience ever.”
While the current status of the cat is unknown, if it ever decides to come back to Hard Rock Stadium while the Hurricanes are playing, Manny Diaz may have a spot for it on the team.
When asked about the cat in the post-game press conference, Diaz joked, “If the cat will help us in our red zone offense, I’ll see if we can give it a scholarship.”
As for UM students, don’t be surprised to see “Rally Cat” t-shirts at next week’s game against Michigan State.
“I started calling it the rally cat and I believe that’s why we won the game,” Bunch said.