By Dan Coles
A celebrity cat famous for wandering around a university campus has been flooded by more than 5,000 get well soon messages after being run over.
Much-loved black moggy Rolf is the official campus cat of the University of Warwick in Coventry, West Mids, where staff and students treat him like a VIP.
The three-year-old pet has 10,000 followers on social media as well as his own university ID card so he can roam across the university’s buildings, libraries and lecture halls posing for selfies.
And Rolf has been swamped by thousands of cards, messages and well wishes from across the world after he suffered severe bruising and lacerations when he was hit by a van while crossing a road on the sprawling campus on the outskirts of Coventry on Monday evening at 5.45pm.
Luckily, he was rescued by heroic medical student Rachel Perring, 29, and is now back at home being cared for by his owners – much to the relief of the entire student body.
First year medical student Rachel, who rushed Rolf to the nearby economics department to get help, said: “Other students now come up to me and thank me for saving Rolf.
“But I didn’t actually know about his fame until afterwards, as I don’t use social media.
“Since then, the response has been incredible. So many people have thanked me in person and asked how Rolf is doing.
“I even received a really kind email from a lovely lecturer at the medical school thanking me for saving Rolf because her four-year-old nephew is a massive Rolf fan.
“The response on Twitter has been even more incredible. Rolf has a lot of kind and witty followers.
“I think I might be known as Rachel Purring for a while thanks to one particularly witty Rolf fan.”
Pal Claudia Rei, 42, added: “Everyone was super concerned when this happened, people were relieved when they knew he would be okay after a month.
“By now, Rolf is such a celebrity that the students really miss him.”
Within a few minutes of Rachel discovering Rolf, his owner Helen Bevan, who lives just half a mile from the university campus.
She rushed him to Coventry’s Vets Now pet emergency clinic and the moggy should now make a full recovery as long as he rests at home – as he isn’t allowed to roam anywhere for the next month or so.
Helen said: “It’s an absolute miracle Rolf is still with us.
“He was very badly hurt but he got brilliant care at Vets Now.
“He’s a natural born roamer and I’m sure he won’t like it much having to be kept in a crate for a month.
“But it’s essential for his own good – it’s to stop him moving around too much. He needs to get complete rest or his injuries just won’t heal.”
Helen, who has had Rolf since he was a kitten, said he’s always had a tendency to wander off.
When she realised her wayward moggy was naturally gravitating towards the university campus, she started to drop him there so he didn’t have to cross busy roads.
Now, Helen, tracks her beloved pet via a GPS tracker so they can ensure he’s safe wherever he is.
And the pussycat is so well loved at the university that some students have even suggested a campaign to grant him an honorary degree.
Helen said: “Rolf would disappear for days and we’d get calls from people who’d found him and spotted our phone number on his collar.
“We took him to a cat behavioural specialist to see if there was any expert advice we could get to stop him disappearing.
“But the truth is he’s just one of those cats — and he has always been drawn to the university campus.
“I don’t know why, but he just has.
“Originally, we set up his Twitter and Instagram accounts so that people on the campus could keep us in touch with where he was.
“Now, as well as social media, we’ve got him on a GPS tracker so we always know his whereabouts.
“For Rolf to get to the campus from our house involves crossing three busy roads, which is a huge worry obviously.
“So I thought, ‘well, if he’s going to go there anyway, I may as well take him there myself’.
“Now I drop him off at the campus on my way to work in the morning, keep an eye on the tracker to see where he is and then collect him again on my way home.
“We post a map every night on his social media feeds showing where he has been that day.
“People love it, it’s created a real sense of community and sometimes it shows that he’s roamed around seven or eight kilometres, which is pretty impressive.
“The staff and students take pictures of him sitting on their chairs or in their offices.
“He’s become an internet phenomenon and it really shows the positive power of social media.”
The Vets Now clinic in Coventry — where Rolf received treatment — was recently rated as ‘outstanding’ in the delivery of emergency and critical care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
It’s one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals that are open through the night, seven days a week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies.
Principal Nurse Manager Amanda-Jane Rogers said: “Rolf was in a pretty bad way when he arrived and needed a lot of pain relief.
“We’re all so pleased he pulled through.”