Just minutes into the second quarter of UM’s home opener football game, the ‘Canes were barely holding off Appalachian State. But no one’s eyes were on the field. They were fixed toward a deck above the student section, where fans hollered toward a dangling object.
“We were just watching the game and we saw all of these people looking behind us. My friends and I were wondering, ‘what’s everyone looking at?’” said sophomore Emilia Weiss, who was sitting in the center of the chaos.
At first Craig Cromer, a facilities manager at University of Miami and longtime season ticket holder, couldn’t make out what the creature was from his seat in the first row of section 208, either.
But soon, the paws and tail came into focus. Weiss, Cromer and the rest of the crowd nearby could see it was a cat holding on for dear life.
“When we saw it dangling, I was like man, how are we going to catch this cat?” said Cromer. “I didn’t think we’d be able to catch it barehanded. That’s when the idea came to me.” Cromer snatched the American flag he and his wife bring to every game from its zipties on the handrails and prepared for the catch of a lifetime.
Meanwhile Weiss, who is a biology major on a pre-veterinarian track and has emergency veterinary medical experience, headed toward Cromer. “By the time I got there, the cat was hanging by two paws,” she said.
Cromer and his wife were holding the 3-by-5-foot flag on either side, braced for impact.
“You could tell the cat knew how bad of danger it was in because it started to urinate,” said Cromer.
Eventually the cat lost its grip, fell directly onto Cromer’s American flag, then sprang off toward the student section below. A fan grabbed the cat and held it up for the crowd, who roared in cheer.\
By this time, Weiss had made her way to the center of the action. Another student, who Weiss said told her she was also certified, helped her examine the cat. “The other girl had the front end of the cat, holding its jaws shut to make sure it wouldn’t bite me while I was checking its spine and hips,” said Weiss. There was no obvious bleeding or spine injury. “But I saw one of the hips was dislocated and the other one was a little out of place, as well,” she said. “I adjusted those really quickly until the cat got startled by other people trying to touch it. Then it started attacking the girl who was helping me.”
Weiss said she put the cat down to avoid getting bitten, and it eventually ran away, biting two students on its way out. “I was kind of glad it ran away because I knew it was in OK enough condition to run,” she said.
Weiss and Cromer said they had no idea how the cat got into the stadium, but they suspected it was a from a nearby neighborhood.
“It definitely looked like a pet. It had a healthy weight and nothing was wrong with its fur,” said Weiss. “I know that it fell onto the flag on its back. If it had fallen on the ground like that, there’s no chance it would’ve survived.”
Cromer said he went back to watching the game after the ordeal, but covered in a spilled soda, smelling the lingering cat urine and watching the sub-par performance from our football team, he left during the third quarter.
“I’m glad the cat’s OK. But I hope that I don’t ever have to do it again,” said Cromer.
The ordeal went viral almost as soon as it happened—The Today Show featured it on “Hoda’s Morning Boost,” and one video posted on Twitter has garnered over 10.5 million views to date.
words_staff. photo_emmalyse brownstein. illustration_giselle spicer. design_lauren maingot.