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Hambone
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 feline urologic 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.

cat portrait
Hambone

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.

cat fangs
Fangs!

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.

cat in shower
Sweet kitty

Gary Michael Smith is a writer in New Orleans. He can be reached at ChatgrisPress@ChatgrisPress.com.