Photo courtesy of MCT Trails on Facebook.

EDWARDSVILLE - The MCT Trails community has shown an outpouring of support following Newt the trail cat’s passing.

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Newt, an orange tabby known for roaming on the MCT Trails, passed away at the end of May. In the week following his death, bicyclists and walkers have created a memorial at the site of “Newt” the Trail Critter, an orange cat sculpture named for Newt and located at Edwardsville Junction.

“A community is comprised of more than its people,” said S.J. Morrison, MCT managing director. “Animals can be culture makers too, and Newt was certainly one of those culture makers.”

Morrison explained that the Newt sculpture was almost completely covered with photos, flowers, notes and other tokens of remembrance. MCT removed all memorials on Friday, June 7, 2024, and gifted them to Newt’s family.

Chris and Lisa Wells, Newt’s owners, have been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received. Chris noted that Newt belonged to the community, and the Wells family is happy they were able to share him with all of MCT’s trail users.

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“He was basically the community’s cat,” Chris said. “So many people have fallen in love with him throughout the years.”

Newt would often approach bicyclists and walkers on the trails. He wanted to be petted, and he would sometimes lie in the middle of the trail until he got attention. Over the years, he attracted so much attention that the Madison County Trails Association created merchandise with his likeness. Profits from the merchandise went to the Metro East Humane Society, where Newt was adopted.

Morrison said Newt created a “destination” for many trail users who would look for Newt on their walks and bike rides. A “Newt for Mayor” Facebook page allowed people to detail their experiences with Newt and post pictures of the cat. A lot of people had a deep connection to him and enjoyed interacting with him on the trails.

“He really was sort of a goodwill ambassador for the MCT Trails because he was so friendly to anybody who he encountered,” Morrison added. “Any time that my family and I would come upon Newt, it just brightened the experience. So from a big picture perspective, it’s a major loss for the MCT Trails and for all of the folks who loved him. We’re really going to miss him.”

But as the memorial demonstrates, Newt will not be forgotten. Morrison thanked the community of people who have come out to show their support for Newt, his family and the MCT Trails.

“That really has meant a lot to us, both to Madison County Transit and to the people who loved him,” Morrison said. “It’s pretty unique when one cat makes that big of an impact.”

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