(Photography by Erielle Bakkum Photography)

Modo, Rockefeller Chapel’s cat, tells all

Thoughts on life at Rockefeller, squirrels, and Phil the Phoenix.

When the Magazine profiled Quasimodo Rockefeller in 2011, he was not quite seven months old and new at his post as chapel cat at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. “Modo was a little unpredictable as a youngster,” says Rockefeller Chapel dean Elizabeth Davenport, also known as “momma” to Modo’s 821 Facebook friends. Now settled into his role, he’s a welcoming presence for students and other visitors.


Modo took some time out of his busy schedule to answer the Magazine’s questions via email.

Note from Davenport: “As is true of many cats, Modo prefers the third person singular when conjugating verbs in referral to himself. He is sometimes scolded for this (on Facebook) by alumni who doesn’t understand.”

As Rockefeller’s chapel cat, do you have specific job responsibilities?

I patrols the chapel. Behaves nicely at meditation and yoga. Pets students. ~^..^~

What’s your favorite part of the job?

I likes to check out the inside of the big heating pipes at Rockefeller. Especially when I comes out into another room and surprises everybody! Oh, and photo ops. I does like the camera.


Have you caught any mice or rats, as chapel cats are expected to do?

No. We doesn’t have any. 

Who, in history, is your favorite chapel cat?

Hmmm. I has to ask Dean Boyer for help with this one.

How do you feel about catnip?

Even better than Bach. Though I likes Bach too.


Canned or dry?

I likes to be dry. All cats does.

Wand toy or red dot?

Blue dot (pale).

The chapel hosts many events. Do you have any favorites?

Convocation! I puts the cat in convocation. Actually, I really likes yoga best. Especially the cat pose.


Do you like to be petted by everyone?

Hmmm. I likes it when the copy machine pets me. It sends out warm paper when I gets near.

Do you find yourself bored over summers and other times when there aren’t as many people on campus?

I is easily entertained. I always finds a laptop keyboard. ~^..^~

What do you think of the carillon? Do you have a favorite Friday lunch pick of pop tunes?

“Memory.” Paws down favorite. Yes, I likes the carillon. I is named for Quasimodo.


Have you climbed all 271 steps to the top of the tower?

I is only allowed as far as the catwalk.

If you could take any class at UChicago, what would it be?

The Little Red School House. It helps me with grammar.

Are squirrels the Antichrist?

Hmmm. Maybe just apocatastasis.


Do you have any thoughts about dogs?


Are you ready to challenge Phil the Phoenix to a battle of the mascots?

Cat versus bird? You is kidding, right? Non modo non credibiliter . . .

There have been quite a few pictures of you on Facebook with some look-alikes. What’s that about?

The baby Modos? It’s about the bottom line.


Do you feel flattered or cheapened by the presence of so many mini me(ow)s?

I loves them. I tries to get them to play with me.

How can someone purchase a baby Modo?

They comes and asks me.1


What does the money raised go toward?

The bottom line. ECON 19800.2

Is there anything else that you would like to say?

I puts the cat in crescat.

1. You can get your own baby Modo at Rockefeller Chapel for $22. If you aren’t in Chicago, email Modo at spirit@uchicago.edu to inquire about having one sent to you.

2. Funds raised support musical performances and the visitor experience at Rockefeller Chapel. The iconic chapel attracts 220,000 visitors a year and hosts many major events. Visit their website to learn more about these events and to download your copy of the spring/summer 2017 Arts Rock guide, which includes a cameo appearance from Modo.

Updated email address 08.09.2018.