December 1, 2006
By Gary Michael Smith
Chatgris was lonely. It had been a couple years since Beet went to the great scratching
post in the sky, and a year after Boris had died of an incurable injection site sarcoma
caused by a rabies shot in the shoulder blades, a practice that's avoided now because of
just such complications.
Looking for company for Chatgris, I went to the local feed and seed store one Saturday
since they had cats from several of the local humane societies. I had my mind set on a
feline that had been declawed for two reasons: First, Chatgris had his talons removed by
the person who kicked him out on the street before I adopted him from an abandoned car.
Second, although I would never declaw an animal, I'd gladly take care of one for the rest
of its life.
I'd looked online and checked with veterinarian offices but no one seemed to have such a
cat. I did find a few at the feed store, but they were all longhairs, which I try to avoid
since I've had a few in the past that were plagued with
syndrome (FUS) and I just could not take
that sadness again. But there was one medium domestic gray that reminded me of Boris in
both build and personality.
While I thought he might be a Chartreaux, he had ice blue eyes like a Siamese. And he had
his shtick down too. When I opened the door to his cage he ran up to the opening and
aggressively put his two front paws on my shoulders. He wouldn't let me pick him up, but I
could pet his head, sides, and back. But when I pushed him back in his cage and latched the
door, he moped back over to his corner, crawled into a ball, and looked back at me with
big, sad eyes as if to say, "That's all I got. Why didn't you adopt me?"
I looked at a number of others and eventually left the feed store. But I kept thinking of
Ham, as they called him because of his love of attention. One of the clerks even told me
that he'd been there at the feed store every Saturday for the past 3 months for adoption
because the vets at the shelters just didn't have the heart to put him down. The clerk
even told me that her mother had told her that morning that if nobody adopted him that
day, to take him home to live with the other 27 cats they cared for.
I thought about this too, about how it probably wouldn't be the best of environments for
such a loveable boy who evidently craves attention. But why wasn't anyone intested in
adopting him? He didn't smell like spray. Maybe it was because his upper incisors were
actually fangs. Indeed, he reminded me of Baby Puss, Fred and Wilma Flintstone's pet
saber-tooth tiger. But he didn't bite, and he loved to rub his head on you and give the
head-butts that are characteristic with Chartreauxs.
I thought about this while I drove home, and I told Brenda about him. She agreed to come
back across town with me to see him for herself. And that's all it took. She opened the
cage door and he performed his act for her too. But she picked him up and we took him to
the petting area so he could walk around and socialize with us. He didn't spray and he
didn't do anything weird, so we signed the papers and took him home. To this day he seems
extremely grateful to be out of that cage and has never used his fangs for anything other
than eating and rubbing on us.
Gary Michael Smith is a writer in New Orleans. He can be reached at ChatgrisPress@ChatgrisPress.com.