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Living at Southeast's favorite cat shines light in stressful times
Alum Rachel Braden has posted photos of her cat, Noodle, to the Living at Southeast Facebook group. Braden graduated from Southeast Missouri State University this past December with a degree in family studies and a minor in social work.
Living at Southeast is one of the top Facebook groups for students on and off campus. In the group, students post about living arrangements, school closings, degrees and school work.
When do you ever see animals posted at Living at Southeast? Almost never.
Braden decided to post her cat Noodle on Living at Southeast on Dec. 8, 2019, and, from there, she said she received a good amount of engagement from students. This motivated her to post about Noodle during finals week and during the first week of classes during the semester.
From there, more students started posting about their animals on Living at Southeast.
Mckinley Nicole, who is a friend of Braden, said the posts uplift her spirits.
“Noodle is a little crackhead sometimes when he gets the zoomies, but just seeing a picture of him doing something would make me feel better,” Nicole mentioned.
Another friend of Braden, Bryce Peacock, who graduated in December with a degree in anthropology, said Noodle helped her during tests and finals week while she was in college.
“If we’re having a bad day, we have a group chat to go to, and pictures of Noodles always get sent, and this helps cheer us up,” Peacock said.
In 2018, Braden visited a meet-and-greet event at the Cape Trails apartment complex hosted by Safe Harbor, an animal shelter in Jackson. The event showcased some of their pets.
At the time Braden lived on her own, but braden presented a slideshow on why she should get a cat, in efforts to convince her mom to let her adopt a cat. After that, she finally convinced her mom to say yes. That next weekend, she went to the shelter.
Braden was determined to get an older cat. After walking around the shelter, she noticed a smaller kitten climbing up the chicken-wire wall. The kitten crawled across her shoulders, and at that moment, she knew this cat was the one.
“I have always been a big pet person; I have had a couple fish throughout high school and into college, but I knew that I wanted more than a fish. At the space that I had at the time, I wasn’t too comfortable with getting a dog, so then I met Noodle, and I guess that was it,” Braden said.
The question is, “Why Noodle?”
“I already liked the name Noodle, and I think food-named pets are very funny,” Braden mentioned.
Noodle was originally named “Gerald” by the shelter, but Braden said she was not too fond of keeping that name.
“Noodle fits him, because he is so goofy, so it was the best fit,” Braden said.
One of Noodle’s favorite foods is kitty go-gurt, and he tends to like toys that are green.
“Noodles' personality is very loving, social and charismatic,” Braden said.
Braden said Noodle’s sunny personality helped her get through tough days at Southeast.
“When I got to college, the school anxiety got worse due to being on my own terms. Noodle helps me step back and has gotten me through a lot of moves, heartbreaks, loss of friendships and especially COVID-19. He’s changed my life,” Branden mentioned.
Now out of college, Braden has come up with other ways to feature Noodle on other online platforms.
Braden has entered Noodle in “America’s Favorite Pet” contest. America’s Favorite Pet is the second-largest supporter of PAWS.org, and their mission is to help sick, injured and orphaned animals, according to the America’s Favorite Pet website. A person can vote on the website and donate to this cause.
Voting for this year’s contest ended March 3 at 6 p.m. PST.
Noodle is currently in second place, but if Noodle wins, he will receive a prize of $5,000 and be featured in a magazine.