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Loyalist’s feral “Res Cats” befriended by dome manager

By Jessica Clement  [1]

BELLEVILLE – Loyalist College has a little-known band of bandits who for the past eight years have made their home in the area surrounding the Sports Dome.

Widely referred to as “Res Cats,” this group of feral felines have wandered the far end of campus, keeping their distance from staff and students alike. However, there is one exception. His name is Greg Gavin and he is the facilities manager at the dome. He has taken on the unofficial role of caretaker for the cats, and is the only person to have gained their trust.

“Years ago one of the maintenance guys brought me over a box of kittens. He put it under our front porch here at the dome,” Gavin said. “So I started feeding the mother back then, and then her kittens too. I’ve been feeding the cats ever since.”

Facilities Manager Greg Gavins greets Loyalist’s male Res Cat. Photo by Jessica Clement.

Residence Programmer Jillian Robinson often sees Gavin watching over the cats.

“They don’t have anywhere else to go. Greg comes in every morning to feed them even if he isn’t scheduled to work that day,” she said.

Gavin said he believes the first generation of cats was a product of students on residence leaving them behind after the school year. Despite his early efforts to have all of the cats and their kittens fixed, he said it only took one of them to slip through to lead to now the third generation of Res Cats at the dome.

According to Pet MD [2], feral cats only tend to live to the age of two when they’re fending for themselves in the wild. However, with the reliable care that Gavin supplies, such as their own cat-accessible shelter beside the dome and regular feeding schedules, the Res Cats live a life similar to barn cats, which can help them reach the age of 10.

Cat-accessible shelter on campus. Photo by Jessica Clement.

In exchange for full stomachs and safe shelter, Gavin said the cats take care of the mice and rats that beforehand plagued the dome.

“We have a little river that runs right underneath the sports dome, when we first started up there were massive rats. Let’s just say the cats have served their purpose,” he said.

The brother and sister feline duo are the last to remain on campus, and receive their vaccines, as well as worm medication, that is mixed in with their food. Gavin said Fix Fur Life [3], a charity organization that uses donation money to fix animals, sterilized the pair.

“We also have Moira Veterinary Clinic’s sign up in the dome and in return for not charging them anything for it they take care of the vet bills for the cats,” Gavin said.

Each year Student Government makes a $300 donation to Gavin to cover the cost of food. Through years of care, these wild cats are a little more tame to the hand that feeds them.

Gavin and Robinson agree that the cats don’t present themselves as a nuisance to students, always keeping their distance from passerby – except from, of course, Greg Gavin.