Thursday, March 22 , 2018, 3:40 am | Overcast 59º


Marymount of Santa Barbara the Cat’s Meow for Resident Feline Rex

Students illustrate a new book about how Rex adopted the school, with proceeds to pay for food and vet care

Cats have nine lives, or so the saying goes. When taking into consideration the life — or lives — of Rex, a Santa Barbara resident who has gotten much acclaim for adopting Marymount of Santa Barbara as his home, one is tempted to start counting.

A mosaic by students at Marymount of Santa Barbara honors Rex, the school's resident cat.
A mosaic by students at Marymount of Santa Barbara honors Rex, the school’s resident cat. (Marymount of Santa Barbara photo)

Rex is a pleasantly plump, orange tabby who originally lost his home during the devastating 2009 Jesusita Fire. After the fire, Rex and his owner moved into a cottage near Marymount.

Curious and social by nature, Rex found himself drawn by the joyful sound of children’s voices playing on the playground nearby. Although Marymount school administration attempted to help Rex return to his home, there was no stopping him. All attempts to send him home failed. Rex had found a new family at Marymount.

Not long after this, Marymount produced a book illustrated by Marymount students about Rex’s “adoption” of their school. Under the leadership of art teacher Sarah Maguire, every lower school student had artwork represented in the original printing.

In 2011, KEYT came to Marymount to do a story on the Rex phenomenon. The story was quickly picked up by ABC and aired nationally. What seemed like moments later, Yahoo! ran it and the story received more than 200,000 hits. Rex had gone viral.

Now, Rex’s story has another chapter. The Rex book has recently become available as an ebook in both English and Spanish. Lucky Penny Press, a Santa Barbara electronic publishing company and the brainchild of local Melissa Marsted, is making the book available to the world through the Web for a very reasonable price.

Ironically, Marsted has a lot in common with Rex. She, too, lost a home to a fire, in her case the 2008 Tea Fire. Marsted used the insurance money from the loss of her home to launch Lucky Penny Press, which publishes books that are intended to “nurture the creative spirit” and inspire, entertain and teach children.

The books are available with or without audio, though it would be a shame to miss out on the wonderful reading of Rex’s story by one of Marymount’s third-graders.

A portion of the sale of every Rex the Cat book will go toward supporting Rex. Marymount has now officially reciprocated the adoption by helping to pay for Rex’s food and veterinarian bills. All proceeds earned by book sales will go to the Rex Fund. The public can help support Rex by purchasing the delightful story about perseverance and the discovery of what “home” really is at

In the meantime, Rex remains oblivious to his fame. He is seen daily running down the sidewalk with arriving Marymount students in the morning as if he is afraid he will be late to class. He regularly appears in cameos during drama productions, prompting students to improvise that he was meant to be there all along. When new Head of School Andrew Wooden first toured the Marymount campus, Rex joined in on the tour, eager to check out the new head of school.

And he loves to sit for portraits. Marymount students recently created several exuberant mosaics featuring his telltale orange stripes in Jessica House’s art class. Graduating does not seem to be on Rex’s agenda. No, Rex thinks he is absolutely fine where he is. And as for how many lives he has now lived, Rex keeps that a secret.

One thing is for sure, though, when you see this cool cat on Marymount’s campus: Rex is living this life to the fullest.

— Molly Seguel is director of admissions for Marymount of Santa Barbara.

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