Remy feels at home in the Barker Center. On a recent early morning visit, he peers out from behind a plant.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Not just a humanities cat

Meet Remy, Harvard’s rambling resident feline, and his family

5 min read

After four years at Harvard, Remy the cat has had pretty much the full Harvard experience.

“He has been in student dorms, at parties, attended lectures, and taken photos with tourists in Harvard Yard,” says his owner, Cambridge resident Sarah Watton.

The 4-year-old orange tabby even has a Facebook page started by friends at the Barker Center that boasts more than 1,000 followers.

So when Remy went missing for a few weeks, Watton’s appeal online struck a chord on campus.

“Hi, I’m Remy’s owner and am writing to find out whether anyone has seen him recently?” Watton posted on Aug. 28. “We miss him and are worried he is hurt or has strayed too far.”

Responses poured in: “I saw him a week ago, Monday, in Pierce”; “My friend thinks he saw him near the Div. School”; “Oh no, I’ll be on the lookout.”

Remy’s Facebook page administrator, Jessica Shires, writes: “The Harvard Alumni page once posted an old Crimson article about a cat who was ‘Guardian of the Yard’ around the turn of the 20th century and someone tagged us in the comments. I think everyone was in agreement that it’s a title that Remy would surely carry.”

Jessica Shires, department administrator in Harvard’s History and Literature Department, said that when she started the Facebook page “Remy the Humanities Cat” with a couple of colleagues, she was surprised to learn how many fans the feline had made in his travels.

“Little did I know how far his visits spread across campus,” Shires said. “Occasionally I’m reminded by Law School, STEM, and museum friends of Remy that he’s not just a humanities cat. I suppose now I’d probably be more inclined to call him ‘Remy the Interdisciplinary Cat.’”

Remy’s owners have known about his double life at Harvard for years now through the many phone calls they receive — up to 10 a day, as late as 2 a.m. — from across campus. “We have picked him up from numerous Harvard buildings over the years,” Watton says.

At their home on Sacramento Street, nearly a mile from the Barker Center, Watton, her husband, Rick Sullivan, and their boys, Jack, 11, and Will, 6, say their pet’s penchant to wander started young. They initially tried walking him on a leash but by the time he turned 1, they gave up trying to stop his excursions.

Remy’s recent weeks-long romp did get him grounded, but his paws are back on the streets, to the delight of his Facebook followers and Harvard buddies.

Watton says the family has often used the Facebook page to track their pet’s whereabouts. “We really appreciate Remy’s community and the love and happiness he spreads wherever he goes!”

If Remy were a scholar at Harvard, he’d study anthropology because he is so curious about humans, says Jack. Will disagrees: “He’d study drama … He should be in movies!”

Remy is both an early riser and a night owl. On a recent early morning, he waits for the campus to wake up.
When Kailey Bennett, a faculty assistant in the English Department, sees Remy, she scoops him up. “I am amazed that Remy has so much gentleness and patience, he’s never exhibited any aggressiveness, and has the lay of the land at Harvard.”

Remy comes and goes at the History and Literature Department and visits Kailey Bennett at her desk.

Remy heads for greener pastures (or possibly just the Law School).

Remy enjoys the fine cuisine of the renowned Faculty Club.

Like many college students, Remy naps in public. Outside Loeb House, where the president has his temporary headquarters, Remy keeps careful watch.

Known for pulling all-nighters, sometimes for days, Remy took off for a three-week stretch in late August, worrying his Facebook followers. Owner Sarah Watton says, “We have spoken/met hundreds of people over the last four years. We repeatedly get told how adorable and friendly he is.”

Remy is restless at home on Sacramento Street.

Will Sullivan plays with Gus, “a regular cat” who likes to be at home. In the background are his brother, Jack Sullivan, and Remy. Says Jack, “When he is home, it is great — I don’t mind when he drinks the milk from my cereal bowl or sleeps on my bed. All my friends think it is very cool to be Remy’s owner. They love him, too.” Sarah Watton poses with her children.

Jessica Shires (right) met Sarah Watton for the first time in late September when Remy was still grounded. His return to campus was lauded by many. One of his Facebook friends wrote, “REMY DO NOT EVER WANDER OFF AGAIN!! Seriously! I feel like that took years off my life!”