EXCLUSIVE PHOTO. ‘The college was having a joke with itself’ Master of Selwyn allowed to keep dog classified as ‘very large cat’ admits.

Helen Spokes 29 August 2014

The Master of Selwyn College has been allowed to keep his bassett hound, despite a ban on dogs in college accommodation, by officially recognising her as a “very large cat”.

YoYo, a rescued bassett hound, lives with Mr Roger Mosey at Selwyn, where cats are permitted but dogs are “technically” banned. When he became Master of the college in October 2013, Mr Mosey hoped to gain permission to have a dog despite these rules, which have been followed for decades.

The college council agreed the Master could keep YoYo in his lodge once she had been officially passed as a “very large cat”.

The council’s minutes showed the agreement: “i. College Animal – Noting precedent under the mastership of Professor Chadwick, Council approved the Master’s request to adopt a Very Large Cat in the Master’s Lodge”.

In an interview with TCS, Mr Mosey said: “It was a tongue-in-cheek comment. The college were having a joke with itself. It was meant to be witty. Professor Owen Chadwick, a former Master at Selwyn, kept dogs a long time ago”.

He explained that it was meant to be an amusing joke and had resurfaced after a visiting conference of American judges had asked about his “cat”.

YoYo is already proving to be popular amongst students at Selwyn. Alex Nott, a second-year HSPS student, said: “It’s lovely because she’s really friendly. She’s definitely become part of Selwyn life, especially when the Master takes her down to support Selwyn teams in various competitions, such as May Bumps”. 

Joe Whitwell, studying linguistics, commented: “Naturally we were gutted when we discovered that the old Master was leaving and taking his beloved cat Gus with him. Then we learnt that the new Master was bringing a dog and we all remembered how cats are selfish, boring, elusive, not particularly loyal and just generally worse than dogs in every respect”.

In response to the official recognition of the college canine as a cat, he said: “The classification of the animal is a cute Cambridge novelty and just another reason I like the place”.

In a diary entry for the New Statesman, Mr Mosey also wrote about his beloved basset hound, saying "Happily, YoYo is not alone as a college dog: I believe there are two more in residence in Master’s Lodges elsewhere, with at least one more expected this October. Cats should look out: dogs are on the march in academia, even if they have to gain entry under false pretences."