As a resident of Westsyde in Kamloops, I’m tickled that we have our very own little magazine called Westsyde Connection. This fall, I offered to write a story and photograph our local cat celebrity, Felix. I read about him frequently on the Westsyde – It’s Our Community page on Facebook and thought it would be fun to get the full story on him by interviewing his owner, Michelle, and meeting him myself. He was a little bit camera shy, but I followed him as he started exploring, as he always does. Eventually, he stopped and posed, as if to say, “Fine, you can have ONE portrait, and then I’ve got things to do and people to see!” I’m usually found doing Kamloops dog photography, but I couldn’t resist this handsome Kamloops kitty!

An old English proverb says, “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays.” This certainly seems true for Felix.

The school bell rang, beckoning the children inside to the warmth of the boot room. They trailed in haphazardly, giggling and kicking off their snowy boots.  As the door swung open and closed several times, a new student slipped in, unnoticed.  His winter coat was camouflage-coloured, but his white socks gave him away.

“Oh hi, Felix!” a ponytailed girl squealed, bending down to stroke the affectionate tabby cat, who arched his back and head-butted her hand to encourage her to continue.

Soon, a circle of children formed around the cat, as eager hands reached out to stroke his soft fur. A nearby teacher joined in, scratching him under the chin before reluctantly ushering him outside again, to a chorus of disappointed “awws” from the kids.

If you are a member of the “Westsyde – It’s Our Community” Facebook page, you have probably seen a post or two asking who this wandering social butterfly belongs to.  The answer is the Brooks family, who live on Kyle Drive.

The Brooks adopted Felix from the SPCA as a kitten, and he is now 16.  For all those years, they have had to contend with his insistence on being the feline version of the Littlest Hobo.  The second he exits their threshold, he takes on the persona of an ownerless cat, convincing anyone who crosses his path that he is hard done by and in need of immediate sustenance and cheek rubs.

On any given day, in all seasons, he can be found following children to (and into) Arthur Stevenson Elementary School, visiting Bumble and Bee Daycare, accompanying dog walkers, and conversing with animals at the Centennial Park Petting Zoo.

“It’s impossible to keep him inside the house,” Michelle Brooks says.  “He goes in and out of the dog door, and if I open the front door a crack, he’s out like a flash.” The Brooks’ have tried putting several ID collars on him over the years, but he always returns without them.

He usually comes home to eat his main meals, but then wants out again. They have had to accept the risk that comes with having a cat who loves the outdoors, but they worry a lot about him, especially as they live near busy Westsyde Road.   Thankfully, he seems to be exceptionally street-smart.

He has gotten into trouble occasionally though, once coming home with a BB pellet in his eyebrow, and another time, a cat claw embedded in his neck from a scrap. “I think he’s used up all nine lives, and then some!” Michelle exclaims.

In the early days, receiving a call from the SPCA was a frequent occurrence, when he was brought there by concerned residents. These days, he’s well-known enough in the community that someone usually recognizes him before he’s assumed lost.

He is known to stare longingly with pleading eyes through a stranger’s screen door, a la Puss in Boots, until the homeowner lets him in.  Once, he found his way in through a dog door not belonging to his house, much to the surprise of the resident.  After begging for a snack, he will curl up on your furniture as if he has always lived there, true to the presumptuous nature of a cat.  As Puss in Boots says, “Some people just don’t understand boundaries.”  Mi casa es su casa is Felix’s motto.

He usually stays within a five-block radius of his home, although Michelle has had to pick him up from the Hamlets and further afield on occasion. He comes when called and loves jumping into the car for a chauffeured ride home.

Recently, he’s been slowing down a little in his golden years and spending more time at home on his favourite fuzzy blanket. Michelle’s daughter, Nicole, set up a cat-centered hangout area in the front yard, and he’s often found curled up in his kitty condo after making his daily rounds.

Tabby cats are known for being affectionate, friendly, and having big personalities, which describes Felix well. The next time you see a wandering tabby with the distinctive M-shaped fur pattern on its forehead, look at it upside down, as in Felix’s case, it just might be a “W” for our very own Westsyde mascot.