At the moment, Spartacat is essentially a stuffed animal with a random person inside. Yes, this is obvious, but it bears repeating so that the full absurdity of the present situation might sink in: the Senators' marketing department uses a stuffed animal to promote the organization. Animal mascots? Cool, and with considerable historical precedence. A stranger in an animal suit? Not so much.
It seems some think that kids like stuffed-animal mascots. Nonsense. As a former kid myself, I believe I can speak with some authority on the matter. Stuffed-animal mascots have little or no appeal to kids who actually follow hockey. I watched the Sens as a kid because of the on-ice product and the players themselves: Alfredsson and Yashin, and, yes, Tugnutt and Rhodes. I was thrilled when Steve Duchesne sent us to the playoffs in '97, and I'm reasonably certain my excitement didn't have a damn thing to do with a grown man (or woman, for all we know) dressed in a lion suit.
It's also incredibly awkward to hang around a stuffed-animal mascot. Who's in that suit? What are they thinking? What are they looking at? Do they enjoy this? Are they judging me? Were I in the presence of an actual lion, there would be no such awkwardness. Maybe fear, but fear is respect, and I want the face of my favourite team to be something I respect. As much value as the current Spartacat is presumed to have in marketing the game to a younger audience, a living, breathing Spartacat would certainly have far greater appeal to kids and adults alike. It would also make for incredibly badass pre-game ceremonies.
Now, I realize that lions can be incredibly dangerous animals, and for the Senators organization to have one, they would have to hire a full-time keeper. But already the team surely has a stuffed-animal-suit-wearer on its staff roster; simply hire a lion tamer instead, and problem solved. This idea isn't exactly groundbreaking (although, in the relatively sterile world of NHL public relations, it admittedly might be): the University of North Alabama presently has two live lions as its mascots, while LSU has Mike the Tiger and the University of Memphis has Tom.
While we would probably need to find someone else to man the t-shirt cannon, how cool would it be to have the only/first live mascot in the league?