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Kitty Star of the Week for Jul. 31 - Aug. 6, 2005

This week our Star is Chatgris. His person-dad, Gary Michael Smith (who can be reached at has written this piece about him, entitled The Little Warrior.

Our friend, Dick, called one afternoon to ask, "Hey, you guys like cats, right?" We told him that "we do, indeed, like cats," and asked why? He told us that a neighbor of his recently bought a beautiful gray male, had it declawed, then for some unknown but cruel reason kicked it outside. So, without its numerous pointed defense weapons, it had been holed up in an abandoned car on a street corner.

I recently hired a new secretary who had just moved to town. I thought that maybe she could use a little buddy so I called and asked her, and she said sure. I put a cat carrier in my car, rode the mile to Dick's neighborhood, and parked in front of his house. But right away I saw the abandoned car and took the cage over to it.

As I approached the rusted Delta 88, I could see a gray cat, about a year old, rustling around on the front bench seat. I put down the cage and slowly approached the open driver's side window. I could see piles of dry cat food that compassionate neighbors had been leaving scattered on the seat. But it wasn't the food that interested him now.

Once he saw me coming, he jumped on the back of the front seat and watched as I slowly advanced. He, too, moved cautiously toward the window, looking from side to side as he crept. When I got within a foot of the car, he looked around one last time then made the leap of faith out of the window and onto my chest. Startled, I held on to him, remembering that he had no front claws. He seemed perfectly content to be held as I took him to the carrier.

At home, it was the usual situation with our other three cats. There was much hissing and avoidance, but a lot of curiosity. I left the cage open in the room but he stayed inside this sanctuary while I called my secretary. She was ready for him, so I drove the few miles for the handoff. She thought he was beautiful and gladly took him for what we figured would be a happy and peaceful life. But we were wrong.

As fate would have it, she lived with an extended family consisting of parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, and a small, yappy dog. Needless to say, the cat was traumatized from the beginning, and sometime during the night he urinated on my secretary's brother's sleeping bag. They were none too happy having to go to an all-night laundromat to wash and dry the bedding.

Consequently, the next morning she came into my office to say that she wasn't able to keep the cat. Sorry, but it just wasn't working out. I asked her to bring him to work after lunch and I'd figure out what to do. With three indoor-only cats already cavorting through my house, I wasn't sure if we were up to a newcomer. But what else could we do? I wasn't about to bring him back to the Oldsmobile. And it just seemed like too much trouble to find another home.

So he became our fourth son. And now he needed a name. I remembered my next-door neighbor telling me once that the words chat gris translates in French to mean "gray cat." I thought that was perfect, so that day he became Chatgris, and he assimilated quickly among the others, which included two black and white "tuxedos" named Sylvester and Beet and another gray one named Boris. Within weeks they were all romping and wrestling together.

It didn't take long to notice Chatgris' intelligence. For instance, we had been finding the blinds on the front door raised nearly to the ceiling, but neither Brenda nor I were doing this. Then one evening we caught Chatgris slipping his paw through the loop of the drawstring, then backing across the floor away from the door, thereby raising the blinds so he could see out of the glass at the bottom of the door. This made me quite curious about his history, so the next time I was at a bookstore I bought "Cat Breeds of the World" by Desmond Morris. The cover even displayed a cat that looked similar to Chatgris and Boris.

I bought the book and learned that Chatgris was actually what appeared to be a Korat. I also learned that Boris was not a Russian Blue but rather a Chartreux. (But I wasn't about to change his name.) I read more on Korats and learned that they are so territorial that the warriors of Siam supposedly took these feline companions into battle with them. And when confronting the enemy for combat, the Korats would leap from their owners' shoulders and attack the opposing forces with fierce intensity.

This photo and the following ones of Chatgris are courtesy of Brenda Joy Floyd

This wasn't too difficult to believe either since every night as we go to bed, Chatgris has his own routine: He roams through the house stealth-like, peering out select windows before coming into the bedroom to examine the closet and survey under the bed. Once satisfied that the house is a secure sector, he jumps onto the bed for the night.

Chatgris became a part of our family 10 years ago, and while all the others now live in brass baby urns on my nightstand, Chatgris has maintained his sense of protection. He has slowed down and sometimes has trouble keeping up with his new buddy -- another adopted Chartreux stray named Hambone -- but is none worse for the wear. At any given time he may be found on top of my computer scanner looking out my home office window, ensuring that the neighborhood is safe. And at night, our Little Warrior's spot is at the head of the bed between our two pillows where he can be the first to wake us up with many licks if we sleep past our normal time.

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