Students come and go from USC's campus, but its squirrels and cats are always there, roaming around providing photo opportunities and interesting stories.
While there are too many squirrels to count, the four campus cats are well known to students by name: Figaro (aka Figgy), Eustace, Edmund and Sissy.
The four felines are owned by Rev. Paul Sterne, and live in the C.S. Lewis Center on the east side of campus. They are seen by many students as surrogate pets. The cats even have their own popular Instagram account where students submit photos and vote on their favorite picture of the week.
First-year psychology student Nate Litton said seeing the squirrels' entertaining behavior positively impacts his day.
“I love the squirrels because they are just minding their own business, digging holes randomly,” Litton said. “It looked like it was straight out of a Disney movie, with all the birds and squirrels.”
There are some things that separate USC's squirrels from those off campus, according to fourth-year English student Ian Petty.
Campus squirrels often behave like humans, especially around food, Petty said, who is a member of the “USC Squirrels” GroupMe chat.
“I’ve seen squirrels sit at tables and eat things,” Petty said. “I see a lot of squirrels doing very human-like activities as I walk around campus.”
In addition to sitting at tables, Petty said he once also saw a squirrel holding a Chick-fil-A sandwich wrapper. He also often sees a "grizzled" older squirrel with a gray streak regularly sitting near Gambrell Hall.
From a student's outsider perspective, the life of a squirrel appears to be quite an easy one.
First-year neuroscience student Salvador Lozano said he was jealous of the squirrels' leisurely lifestyle.
“(They) just steal food and just run around with no care in the world,” Lozano said. “I wish that was me.”
While the squirrels on campus outnumber the cats, some students find spotting the felines a much more exciting experience.
First-year philosophy and global studies student Kate Spillane and first-year English student Peyton Baker said the squirrels scare them, and the cats are cuter.
“They're really bad,” Spillane said about the squirrels. "They come up to me when I'm walking around."
Some students believe the relationship between the squirrels and cats on campus is likely a rocky one.
Second-year advertising student Marisa Wilson said the cats might share icy feelings toward the squirrels due to their natural instincts.
“I would like to think that they like each other, but something tells me that they might not be fond of each other,” Wilson said.
Lozano said he feels the cats have differing opinions on the matter.
“I think Figgy would be chill with the squirrels,” Lozano said. “But Edmund, I feel like he’d have some disdain.”
Petty was more optimistic about the animals' thoughts.
“I like to think that Figgy and the other cats are peaceful, and that they wouldn’t hurt a squirrel,” Petty said. “I would hope that they live in a kind of harmony together.”
Litton said he thinks the cats simply wouldn’t be concerned with the squirrels, and are more worried about finding good places to relax.
“I like to think that their heads are just empty,” Litton said. “The cats are just relaxing on those beautiful steam vents, basking in the sun.”
If the cats and squirrels were to study at USC, there was a consensus among these students that squirrels would gravitate towards business, due to their organization and fast-paced lifestyles.
"They kind of radiate business frat boy energy,” Litton said.
Baker said the cats would definitely like English, a major more befitting of their more relaxed nature. Wilson guessed the cats would choose art or history.
The "USC Squirrels" chat can be joined on the GroupMe app. The cats can be found at the C.S. Lewis center, and those interested can follow along on the Instagram @cslewiscats.