Ball State has its fair share of campus icons, from Beneficence to Frog Baby to Shafer Tower. One icon is a lot smaller than the rest. It’s considered more of a secret but just as important to the campus community.
Lloyd the cat, 14, was diagnosed Jan. 14 with nonmetastatic skin cancer, meaning it will not spread to the rest of his body and will stay on his nose and top part of his lip. His owner, Jody Mason, said he cannot go outside because the color of his fur makes him more vulnerable to skin cancer.
Lloyd was introduced to the university’s campus in 2017 when Mason, a 1996 Ball State graduate, moved back to Muncie. Mason began living in one of the houses that faces the Cow Path behind McKinley Avenue that runs from the Johnson Complex to the Quad.
“Lloyd liked to wander a lot,” Mason said. “He always did where we had [lived] before, and that continued in town, which made us nervous.”
Because Lloyd liked to wander around campus, Mason bought a collar for him that would not only identify him, but would be able to track where he was going around the area.
Connect with Lloyd online
Follow Lloyd on Instagram @lloyd_the_people_cat. The account encourages followers to DM with photos of Lloyd or tag him in posts.
Visit Lloyd’s Redbubble page @LloydBSUCat for branded face masks.
Source: Lloyd the cat’s Instagram page
“As a joke, I just made an Instagram and thought, ‘Well, maybe I can see where he goes,’ and we put a QR code on his tag,” Mason said. “Then, things just kind of went nuts.”
Mason posted pictures tracking Lloyd on his adventures and encouraged people to send in pictures of him from around campus and tag him to see where his favorite places were. Lloyd mostly hung out by the Cow Path and the Johnson Complex residence halls.
“People just kept following him, and I think it was within a month, there were 400 followers [of the Instagram account],” Mason said.
In October 2019, Lloyd was crossing the Cow Path behind the Lafollette Complex near a loading dock when he ran into a car.
“I think he was chasing something, like a chipmunk, and he ran,” Mason said. “He didn’t run out in front of the car — he literally hit their tire while they were driving down the Cow Path.”
The accident broke Lloyd’s jaw and gave him a laceration on his face. It also tore up his nose, which is what Mason believes led to Lloyd’s recent skin cancer diagnosis. After the accident, Mason said, Lloyd would not leave the tear alone. Over time, it began to heal, so Mason took him to the veterinarian, where they found out he had a feline herpes virus.
Lloyd was treated for the virus, but as time went on, the spot on his nose continued to get worse. Mason believed it was just the virus again, but the veterinarian did a biopsy, where they found out it was skin cancer.
“He’s always gotten into enough scrapes,” Mason said. “He’s almost always had this spot on his nose — whether it was because he was messing with another cat or he liked to go under the chain link fence to the Cow Path from the neighborhood.”
She made a post about the cancer diagnosis on Lloyd’s Instagram account, @lloyd_the_people_cat, Jan. 24.
Mason explained to the account’s followers what the diagnosis meant, the symptoms he had and what they could do to help him get better. She also thanked Lloyd’s followers for their support. This post was met with well-wishes and encouragement from followers of the account.
Hailey Byall, sophomore photography major, has been following the Instagram account since her freshman year.
“I’ve seen him in person around campus a few times, and he always brightened my day,” Byall said. “I have pets at home, and being away from them is hard, but Lloyd always helped with that.”
Byall saw the post Jan. 24 and said she was shocked by the unexpected news of Lloyd's cancer diagnosis.
“It makes me sad to know that there may not be a good outcome, but all I can hope is that he pulls through so he can continue to comfort people on campus,” Byall said.
Mason’s husband, Mikey Mason, is self-employed and spends more time with Lloyd. He also takes the pictures for the Instagram account.
“He’s always had a close relationship with Jody, but now, he spends time hanging out with me and chilling on my lap,” Mason said.
He also described Lloyd as a charismatic animal, who the family has loved to share with the Ball State community.
“He’s always gravitated toward whoever was upset,” Mason said. “It has always seemed like him to calm them down and make everything right. That’s just who he is.”
The Masons said they are thankful for all the support they have received since Lloyd’s diagnosis and are hoping for the best during this time.
“We appreciate everybody always looking out for him and thinking he’s as cool as we think he is,” Jody Mason said. “He’s just a huge character in this little cat body.”
Contact Maya Wilkins with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mayawilkinss.