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

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

The first $300 shopping spree winner, Carol Travis. (Cole Schisler photo)
LDBA and Ladysmith Credit Union sponsor local shopping sprees

Don’t miss your chance to win a $300 local shopping spree

Bob Higgins pulls the gate across on the elevator built inside his home. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Crofton man’s expertise earns international award with home-built elevator

Experience put to use in winning contest entry for furniture and home projects

Nanaimo Airport’s terminal building. (File photo)
Nanaimo Airport faces steep decline in passenger counts

Nanaimo Airport CEO Dave Devana says it will take years to return to 2019 levels

Bhagwan Mayer. (Photo submitted)
Organizer of transporting the World’s Largest Hockey Stick to Cowichan remembered

Bhagwan Mayer a “hard-working fellow who cared about his community.”

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Gracie couldn’t stop nursing from her previous owner’s goats which was problematic given the goats were trying to be dried out to breed. Gracie now lives at A Home for Hooves. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Cowichan animal sanctuary gets international accreditation

A Home for Hooves farm sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney has spoken out about some veterans losing their Dimished Earning Capacity income. (Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror photo)
Blaney pens letter to minister about veteran supports

Concerned about veterans losing some income

Most Read