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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  K-12 education

Xander the cat a neighborhood celebrity

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Xander the cat is a familiar sight at Jefferson Elementary School on Spokane’s South Hill as he visits children on the playground and meows at the windows of classrooms where “his” children sit.

Lisa Springs said her family adopted Xander, a white and gray kitty, with his sister Annie two years ago. They had to apply to adopt them and be approved, and Springs said she thinks others were interested in the pair as well.

“Somehow they chose us to adopt them,” she said.

The Springs family includes first-grader Naomi , second-grader Wyatt and fourth-grader Amelia . The three kids were home for months last year as the pandemic worsened and it appears that even though Xander is an outdoor cat, he got used to having everyone home.

Even though school wasn’t in session, occasionally the family would walk down to Jefferson to play at the playground and Xander would follow. His sister would stay home, deterred by the busy arterial that must be crossed to get to the school, but Xander is unafraid of the traffic, Springs said.

“Xander is our adventurous kitty,” she said.

The cat obviously learned the way to Jefferson, because as the kids went back to school, Xander started to visit them.

In the beginning, Springs got a call from the school to come down and get Xander. By now, everyone is used to seeing him.

“He was always trying to get into the school when someone comes out,” she said. “The vice principal has said he’ll come down at recess and just hang out.”

Second-grade teacher Elizabeth Tinney said the first time Xander showed up at her window, Wyatt was absent and no one knew who the cat belonged to.

“ (The cat) was at our windowsill and the window was open,” she said. “He was kind of pawing at the window and meowing.”

She said she called the office to report the visitor.

“The principals knew right away whose cat it was,” she said.

Principal Nikki Golden said that though Xander has tried to get inside the school, she doesn’t think he’s made it in.

“It has been fun to watch the cat walk along the windowsills and try to get into school in the mornings,” she said. “It is amazing how the cat knows which class its student is in.”

Tinney said her class comes to a halt when Xander appears.

“Now, whenever they see him, they say ‘Xander is here,’ ” she said. “The kids get really excited. They want to let him in, but they can’t do that.”

This is the first time she’s ever had a student’s pet follow them to school for a visit, Tinney said. She said she thinks the cat has been a welcome visitor, even though he can be a distraction when he’s meowing at her window.

“I think the adults appreciate seeing him every once in a while,” she said.

Springs said Xander is well known in the neighborhood, too.

“Our neighbors have told me that he’ll come and sit on their doorstep between 5 and 6 a.m.,” she said. “He dashes into their garage for breakfast.”After all, he needs that second breakfast if he’s going to go to school later.

“He’s just a super personable cat,” Springs said.

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