Bob the cat walks across the bar at the Atlin, B.C. recreation centre. (Sophie Villeneuve/Submitted)

Bob the cat walks across the bar at the Atlin, B.C. recreation centre. (Sophie Villeneuve/Submitted)

Atlin, B.C. community mourns Bob the cat

Bob was struck by a car on Oct. 29. A memorial is planned for Nov. 16.

Bob the cat, the beloved, furry resident of the Atlin recreation centre known for prancing along the bar, occasionally interrupting a bingo game upstairs and taking a seat on jackets left behind on chairs, has died.

The social and beloved feline exhausted the last of his nine lives on Oct. 29 after he was struck by a car in the northern B.C. town.

He was 16.

Originally from Whitehorse, Bob was brought to the small British Columbia community in the summer of 2003, when he was eight weeks old, by then-resident and rec centre manager Leah Anderson.

Anderson, who lived across the street from the rec centre, recalled in an interview Oct. 31 that she would take her infant daughter to the office with her and Bob, on his own accord, began following her too.

“Pretty soon he was, you know, just going over to bingo because he saw all the people there and for awhile, I was getting phone calls or somebody would bring him home saying he was stepping all over the bingo cards because he’d get up on the table,” Anderson said.

“I guess he finally learned a little bit of bingo etiquette … so they were letting him stay and he would meander down into the bar. And then they couldn’t find him when they were going to lock up, so then he started spending the nights and then it just kind of snowballed from there.”

At first, Anderson said, she would try to bring Bob home, but, as soon as he was let out of the house again, he would cross the street and head back to the rec centre.

“It was funny, it really was,” she said. “It was kind of a running joke that only my cat would leave me for the bar.”

At the bar, Bob, a talented mouser, apparently developed a taste for beer, Atlin resident Carolyn Moore told the News, occasionally taking a lap or two out of patrons’ glasses.

“And they thought, well, they’ll just give him a saucer with his own little bit of beer in it so he wouldn’t do that,” she said. “And he didn’t drink out of the saucer, didn’t want that so they gave him a shot glass of beer, and that was what he wanted. This guy was a character.”

And like all the other bar regulars, Bob also had his favourite chairs, former rec centre bartender Taylor Fetterly said.

“If there was somebody sitting in them, he would like, no word of a lie, he would sit there and stare at them until they got out of his chair… You could see it on the look on his face that he was basically telling you to get the hell out of his spot,” Fetterly recalled.

“So there were lots of people who just knew, ‘Okay, that’s where Bob sits,’ and they wouldn’t sit in his chair, but it was definitely funny when it was somebody from out of town and they’d be like, ‘Why is this cat just giving me the evil eye? What’s going on here?’”

Bob would also follow smokers out when they went for cigarettes and “hang out” with them, she said, and used the rec centre’s heat vents and crawl spaces, as well as doors when he could get humans to open them for him, to travel around the building and visit.

He was particularly affable to adults, stopping by for pets and chats, or perhaps just to sit on a knee for a little bit, before moving on to his next order of business. He was a little more timid around children, slightly wary of the possibility of getting unintentionally roughed up by young hands, and while he tolerated dogs, he did not consider them friends.

For many Atlin residents, Bob was more than just a living accessory or rec centre curiosity (although he was a card-carrying member) — the feline was a true member of the community, part of its spirit and soul.

“I always think about him as sort of … the therapy cat,” said Erin Lynch, who grew up in Atlin but now likes in the U.K.

“So if you think about it like, you always go to your bartender to tell your problems, which is one thing, but a cat is so much better … He was just a real sweetheart, and at the end of the day, you’ve got something to pet if you’re feeling lonely.”

“We’ve all got our own pets but he’s just one of the ones we all took under our wing, and it was just amazing that he was constantly there,” she added. “We’d keep wondering, when is he just going to wander off? But he was like, ‘No, I’m everybody’s cat.”

And a community cat, he truly was; Moore recalled that several years ago, when Bob required veterinary care, “there were all kinds of donations made and volunteers coming out of the woodwork to get him to Whitehorse.”

“I think people need to love something, you know?” she said. “I think Bob was one of the guys that you could love … he was a good-looking little fellow, everybody loved him. He gave everybody a focus, you know?

“I think he brought out a lot of good things in other people.”

So beloved and part of Atlin lore was — and is — Bob that the community threw him a birthday party every year, with a particularly large bash when he turned 15 last year. Around the same time, artist Cass Collins, a part-time Atlin resident, began gathering pictures, stories, poems and art (Bob is the subject of several paintings) from community members to compile into a book on Bob.

“Everybody, like, everyone in Atlin, knows who Bob is,” Collins said. “You would see him at all sorts of community events and always walking around … He was totally comfortable and happy to just, you know, go from person to person, so definitely, there’s no other animals like that really there. He was pretty special.”

An outpouring of grief has began online since the news of Bob’s death began to spread, with dozens of people on Facebook sharing their memories of the cat and expressing sadness at his untimely departure. (“I’ve seen elders die, people die, in this community who haven’t had that response, so there you go,” Moore said.)

Nowhere is the loss of Bob more acutely felt though, perhaps, than at the rec centre itself.

In an email, bookkeeper Susan Thompson and bar manager and janitor Fiona Harrigan wrote that their daily duties included making sure Bob was “fed, watered and loved.”

“He gave that love back to us in spades and always talked up a storm when we arrived here,” they wrote. “He would talk to us and purr vigorously. We delighted in seeing him gallop up and down the hallways when nobody else was around.

“He loved to be involved and loved the social aspect of things here — even the loud music and shenanigans in the lounge. He was a therapist, a social worker and a dear friend to everyone and we looked forward to seeing him every single day when we came to the rec centre to work. We were enchanted by his warm and loving spirit, his zest for life, and his charismatic personality. We loved him to bits!

“Life will never be the same here without his presence.”

Bob is predeceased by his brother, Tom.

A memorial for Bob is scheduled to take place at the Atlin rec centre Nov. 16.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

Corey Harkness, who is free on bail, is slated to make his first appearance in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops on Dec. 14, 2020. A trial date has not yet been set. (COREY HARKNESS/FACEBOOK)
Accused in Cache Creek homicide will stand trial

Corey Harkness, 33, is charged with second-degree murder

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Most Read