There’s a special story behind the Delaware Museum of Natural History’s mascot, Dude the museum cat, who celebrated his eleventh birthday on Saturday. More than 200 museum guests turned out for a cat-themed birthday party filled with lots of activities for kids who love the furry pet.
The orange tabby cat was rescued as a stray near a dumpster behind the museum by Director of Facilities Chris Hayden in March 2009 and comes to work every day, spending his time in the lower levels of the museum. Ever since his rescue, Dude has made special appearances for special story time events and cat-themed school tours.
There are even two books that have since been written about the Museum’s favorite furry friend — Dude the Museum Cat, originally published in 2012 and Dude Goes Exploring, published in 2017.
Some of the cat-related activities on March 16th included the science behind felines’ sense of smell and hearing, crafts a scavenger hunt, and of course story time with Dude and books about him.
Tree Tops Kitty Café, a local cat adoption center in West Chester, brought information about some of their adoptable cats. The afternoon ended with cake (with a photo of Dude, of course), and goodie bags filled with cat-themed items.
“We had a purrrfectly perfect afternoon at the museum, celebrating Dude’s birthday!” said Stacey Haddock Schiller. “From face painting to stories to arts and crafts, there was something for each of us – and cake for all of us!”
A few of the guests have their own orange tabby cats at home, including Schiller, as well as Jaynie King and her daughter Carmella, who have two four-month-old orange tabby kittens at home.
“We came last year, and we had a lot of fun,” King said. “Last year, Carmella was afraid to pet Dude, but this year she was first in line.” Carmella brought a stuffed orange cat toy with her to the party and said she liked seeing the birds —the museum’s four sun conures, who were out for the event, far out of Dude’s reach.
“The kids like animals, and we have a cat at home,” said Tanya Sandy of her daughters, Ava and Zoe. “They’ll make me have a birthday party for Reed!” Ava Sandy said she liked petting Dude, and her sister Zoe noted how soft his fur is.