May 22, 2019
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Cat who grabbed national headlines as ‘tutor’ at Maine high school dies

Simba, the neighborhood feline whose story of becoming a regular in the halls and classrooms of Westbrook High School grabbed national attention, has died.

The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland expressed its sympathies over the death of “Westbrook’s famous neighborhood cat” in a Facebook post Tuesday morning.

“A staple on Stroudwater, Simba brought joy to so many students and community members throughout his life,” the animal shelter said in its post.

Owner Eileen Shutts, in announcing Simba’s passing on Facebook Thursday, asked that donations be made to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland in his memory.

Simba followed in a new math teacher at the high school when she was carrying in boxes around 2000, and he began visiting the students and teachers daily after that. The Animal Refuge League described Simba as the school’s “study hall tutor” and “professional snuggler.”

Years later, that math teacher, Tina Soucy, said she sometimes would come to work in the morning and find Simba curled up in her chair.

“We often say that Simba would have a Ph.D. by now if he would just stop napping in class,” Shutts once wrote about the cat.

In 2013, a school art show in his honor — the paintings and projects paid homage to the beloved feline — attracted headlines in national outlets like the Huffington Post and Yahoo! News. The featured video with this post was published in 2013 ahead of that art show.

“Simba enjoyed over 20 years of family, school and neighborhood life and brought peace, friendship and affection to all he befriended,” Shutts wrote in her post, in part. “Simba possessed a contemporaneous fierce independence and deep love for human interaction. A steadfast ‘outdoorsman,’ he taught us to slow down and ‘just be’ and to appreciate time with each other and the simple joys of the world around us.”

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