She might be the most popular cat in Saanich, if not Greater Victoria.
Clover the Commonwealth cat has been visiting Saanich Commonwealth Place for years but since last year, she’s taken up a daily residence at the otherwise cat-free recreation facility. Clover is a house cat from a nearby neighbour.
She shows up at 5:30 a.m. and spends her days hanging out, mostly in the SCP lobby. She’s been found sleeping in various locations but she’s not allowed just anywhere and is often relocated to the lobby, where she comes in.
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However, she’s extremely friendly and there’s no keeping her away, said Commonwealth building manager Charlene Parker.
“We take a soft-handed approach,” Parker said. “She’s very friendly and very well loved, patrons cuddle her and staff love her. We’re a public building and we don’t have any way to control the cat.”
That said, Commonwealth Place has some no-go areas that are off limits to Clover, who is now mostly aware of this.
“We have food preparation areas, we have health concerns, some people have serious allergies to cats, so staff are often wrangling her back to the lobby area,” Parker said. “But the reality is we don’t have a full-time cat keeper-outer.”
And so, Clover does what Clover does.
“We’ve found her asleep in a planter, on the counter, in the lost and found, on a keyboard,” Parker said. “She goes into the offices but we do have some staff with allergies so she’s not permitted everywhere.”
Parker only took over as SCP manager last year but Clover’s relationship with the building and its visitors predates Parker’s arrival by a few years. She has only become a daily visitor in the last year. At one point she was even clipped by a patron driving their car in the parking lot though that hasn’t scared her away.
For most people, Clover is a welcome sight and she has a noticeable effect on staff and visitors, Parker said.
“It’s heartwarming to see her with patrons, especially kids who love spending time with her.”
Cat therapy is in fact an evidenced-based psychological therapy, showing that spending time with cats de-stresses humans and strengthens their quality of life.
“She is so absolutely lovely, if health and hygiene weren’t an issue, we’d have [more] cats in the building,” Parker said. “People bring their stress and you can see it disappear when they pet Clover.”
Staff do contact the family of Clover to pick her up and staff also make sure she’s not trapped in the building when SCP closes at night.