Talk to any Ohio University student, past or present, and they will know the name Rufus. He is OU’s current mascot and makes his presence known at events all over campus. Before Rufus became the OU legend that he is, the university mascot was named Mr. Bobcat. At one point, unbeknownst to many, Mr. Bobcat even had a female sidekick, Bobkitten.
According to OU’s archives, Bobkitten was first introduced in 1868 and made appearances with Mr. Bobcat into the ‘70s. Bobkitten was a female bobcat and was presented quite differently than her male counterpart. Her mascot uniform consisted of her Bobkitten head, complete with overexaggerated eyelashes and wore an OU T-shirt or sweater and a skirt.
Since Bobkitten disappeared, OU has yet to introduce another female mascot. Oftentimes, schools will simply add the word “Lady” in front of their mascot’s name for their women’s sports teams but there are very few schools that actually have a female mascot that is separate from the main, male mascot of the school.
Bobkitten’s legacy and history are extremely under-discussed. According to an archive from The Post, Bobkitten was created as a gift to the women of Howard Hall which was built in 1896 and was the only dormitory housing for women at that time.
There are conflicting reports on who the person behind the Bobkitten head was. One report from October 1973 said the role of Bobkitten was typically filled by a man. Female students complained about this. Bobkitten tryouts were open to both men and women; however, no one showed up to the tryouts thus ending the Bobkitten tradition. Another report from 1989 and multiple editions of the Athena yearbook stated that the Bobkitten tradition was taken up by male student Steve Schneider for one year before being taken over by the Chi Omega sorority. These reports, however, had no further mention of the end of Bobkitten.
The true history of the person and people who played Bobkitten and the cause of her eventual disappearance remains unconfirmed.
Bobkitten’s confusing history further clouds her legacy and makes her a mysterious figure of OU’s mascot lineage. Some students at OU today are not even familiar with Bobkitten but feel her return is necessary.
“I feel like they should (bring her back), I feel like that would be so fun,” Savannah Swanson, a freshman studying communication, said. “I think people would enjoy that.”
Other students agree, believing Bobkitten should make a return, even for historic and nostalgic purposes.
“I would like Bobkitten back; that would be so cool,” Navaeh Varner, an undecided freshman, said.
Bobkitten could be another friendly face at football games and other events if she was given a chance to return.
“Yes, (she should come back), especially for the younger kids,” Samuel Casto, an undecided freshman, said.
Rufus has had several memorable moments over the years, things OU mascots of the past, especially Bobkitten, never got to experience.
“I really like Rufus,” Swanson said. “I don’t know much about him, but I do know he fought Brutus and that was funny.”
Although Bobkitten’s fame was short-lived, her existence is an important part of OU’s history and she deserves to have her history shared with OU students. While there are no plans for her return in the future, students agreed that if it were to happen, it would welcomed with open arms.