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Auditioning a Dictator

I wasn’t planning on getting another cat. I really wasn’t. The house does not lack for felines, as everyone knows, and the last thing we need is another one.

And you can’t replace a cat like Ben. You shouldn’t even try.

However.

Since Ben’s passing, there’s been a void. Not an emotional void so much as…well…a power vacuum.

Ben ruled with an iron fist. Without him, the house is like a small, backward country who has lost its dictator. The cats are confused, the second-in-command has taken over and is a bit stressed out by it, and the police are running roughshod over the populace.

(And by “police” I mean the beagle, who is slowly learning that there are no cats who will stand up to him now, and so is getting increasingly likely to chase a cat down the hall or to shove his face in when two cats are having a friendly tussle.)

And then I was at PetSmart, buying dog food, which is located next to the cat adoption center, and I saw him.

Sergioright

Photo by Carol H. from Calvin’s Paws Rescue.


He was looking regal and villainous. His name—I kid you not—was “Prince Sergio.” His description said “I’m very nice, as long as I am in charge. I have to be the dominant cat.” (It repeated in this fashion for about another paragraph.)

I thought “Well….it can’t hurt to ask.”

So after several phone calls with his foster, and a meeting where he proved inquisitive and affectionate…well, there’s a one-eyed Russian in my master bathroom. (His name has already been shortened down to “Sergei” because it’s easier.) “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys” muttered Kevin, lugging his carrier up the stairs.

(The one concern is that he’s not terribly fond of dogs. When I asked about this, they explained that cats who are on the bottom row of cages at the pet store get people who think it’s cute to let their dogs lunge at the cages. There is not a hell deep enough, obviously, but while most cats are either frightened or ignore it completely, Sergei would beat on the glass and demand they come into the cage and say that, which frankly seems like a perfectly valid response. His other experience with dogs is that he ignores them unless they attempt to get up in his face, in which case they will be smacked. This was Ben’s opinion as well.)

What we know about him is that he’s 3 years old and was found at a small travel hotel in Virginia. The family who ran the hotel had been feeding him, and he had taken to breaking into the rooms while the maids were cleaning so that he could sleep on the beds.

Obviously we can’t know for sure, but I’d say it’s pretty obvious he was dumped by somebody—Kevin thinks it’s probably because of his eye.

As you can see in the photo, he’s got a bad eye. I’m gonna take him into my vet for a second opinion, but the vet who examined him said that he probably had an infection as a kitten and the eye didn’t develop properly. It’s blind, rather underdeveloped, and recessed, with a film over it, so mostly what you see is a blank pink space.

Because of this, he was practically unadoptable. He’s gorgeous and friendly and got some interest, but apparently small children would burst into tears and so forth. (It’s ugly, I won’t lie, but odds are good we won’t even notice in a week.) He had been in foster care for over a year and they had given up putting him on display at the stores, except that his foster was moving apartments and several of her cats had to get relocated for the duration.

When we came to pick him up, half the staff of the PetSmart came up to find out who was adopting Sergio—long-term cats like that tend to develop fans. They were grabbing people from the back and dragging them up to meet the people who were taking Sergio home, telling me what a great cat he was. His cat bed and stuffed rat were comped by the manager. I heard several anecdotes. “He’s sensitive about his eye,” one told me. “He won’t even look at you if he thinks you’re talking about his eye.” (Oooo…kay….)

The descriptions say he’s part Russian Blue—joking aside, I’m somewhat skeptical, as his good eye is gold and his coat isn’t as short and dense as that sort of breed. He does have the classic lavender paw pads, however, as opposed to gray, so I can’t rule out that there’s a Russian Blue somewhere in his background. Most likely, however, he’s a plain ‘ol American domestic shorthair with a blue coat…but when he’s looking regal, there is a definite “I am the Tsar of All Russias! Bow before me, peasant!” air about him.

He and Angus are currently glaring at one another through the crack in the bathroom door. They’ve had two smack-fests already, and Angus’s body language has changed from “INTERLOPER!” to “I think I’ll go over here for a bit.” While Sergei is not in Ben’s weight class and does not have that worthy’s indomitable “I WILL DESTROY YOU!” tendencies, I rather suspect that he will be in charge of the house before the week is out.

And if all goes well, perhaps things will finally get back to normal in our small nation, and the trains will again run on time.


Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.


Sounds like Count Ignatiev from the Flashman novels.

Sometimes, it's not that you're replacing, it's that you're reminding yourself that it's not all about death. Sometimes it's about life, and love, and letting yourself love again even if it hurts when they go.

Sergei is awesome, and he's ridiculously lucky to have found you. I am sure he'll be taking over the world in no time.

I love your post. sniff.

He's gorgeous. I think that the domineering attitude is compensation for the blindness. I've known other cats with similar developmental issues (including one rescue kitten that we recently raised at work after he and his litter mates were found under the motorcycle lift) and they all seem to go to the "I'm in charge" place. I really think it's a self-defense mechanism.


I can definitely see this. I mentioned my one-eyed cat below. (She's in my icon.) She ruled the neighborhood when she was an indoor-outdoor cat, as well as the house. She'd been spayed before she ever went into heat; nonetheless, she had male cats wait outside the front door until she came out and they all left together, she had escorts home, everything. She definitely had an air of, "I am in charge and you are only as worthy as I say you are"--just ask my wife, who was deemed Unworthy, lol.

That's awesome. Yay Sergei!

Oh, well, I saw the picture and assumed he was at least part Russian Blue, but maybe it's the color from the flash.

Then I read this entire entry out loud to Ted. :)

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How wonderful for you!

Although the experience of going up to the foster display of one's own free will is somewhat foreign to me... half the time Amanda and I get cornered by one of the volunteers. Our friends theorize that rescuers can smell repeat adopters, much in the same way a shark smells blood in the water.

"They all seem very nice, but really, we're full right now! We're so sorry, please take our loose change..."

I think you are recipients of the attention of the Cat Replacement Bureau. The CRB is that cosmic agency in charge of making sure that those people who can be coerced into accepting cats are presented with cats to accept. Once the CRB knows about you, you are DOOMED.

At one time I lived in a house that was a CRB target. My nephew came home with a kitten. He said that his friend's mother wouldn't let her keep the kitten because it would mean they would have six cats (!). Of course, it meant WE now had six cats.

Great story! :D He looks like a very handsome fellow.

So good to have law and order restored. And yay for a forever home for the Prince.

Sergei, Prince Sergei.

"You will address as Prince Sergei, Sergei, Yes Leader, or mywiddlecuddlemuffin...but only if you bring me treats first....are we clear on that, Human?"

I have to agree that I thought that he was a Russian Blue when I first saw his picture too.
Ad then the fact the has only one eye?
He's halfway to becoming a Bond villain.
Whoever dumped him does not realize this cat's cool potential.
They clearly have no imagination, nor a taste for the Classic.

Congratulations on the new addition to your household! We recently adopted a 12-year-old cat in much the same way -- she was at PetSmart, and when we went by the adoption area, she pointed out the Keke-shaped hole in our lives. I hope Sergei settles in as well as she did!

Of course Keke is still working on being the leader of the felines in the house, but she's more than worked out that she's in charge of her new humans!

Sergi kinda reminds me of Nanny Ogg's cat from the Discworld novels. :D

That was my first thought as well.

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You have a Bond-villain cat, that's awesome! Seriously though, congrats on the new addition.

I have fallen in love with your icon.

When we came to pick him up, half the staff of the PetSmart came up to find out who was adopting Sergio—long-term cats like that tend to develop fans. They were grabbing people from the back and dragging them up to meet the people who were taking Sergio home, telling me what a great cat he was.

I may have done this to some of the people who have taken our long-term "guests" home from the shelter where I volunteer. Or, if I come in and discover that a long-timer is gone, I will excitedly go and ask where they are and spread the joyful news that they've been adopted to the other volunteers as they come in, so I have a feeling someone is excitedly explaining that Sergio went home with this great lady yesterday to another PetSmart person right now. It's such a great feeling when they go home, even if you do miss them a little. (I know I'm gonna cry when Large Marge the 20 pound orange tabby goes to a forever home, but someone's gonna get a loving lap magnet of pure awesome.)

We had a kitten surrendered to us with a similar eye problem. They're probably going to remove the non-working eye when he's of a weight to handle being put under. The vet said the kitten won't know the difference and it will save his remaining eye from getting infected. Is he okay with you reaching in on his blind side? One of our semi-blind cats freaks out and attacks if you reach in on the side with a cataract. I got a lovely row of welts the first time I did it.

He's fine with stuff on the blind side, near as I can tell, though I'm trying to be careful. That's the side he wants to rub on you, anyway.

Apparently they've considered removal, but it would be largely cosmetic and you hate to put a cat through major surgery they don't need. Gonna check with my vet, though.

I have a three-legged Russian—a mutt, because you can see in a certain light that he's mixed with tabby—that I got as a kitten; he's from a cat colony and I named him—naturally—"Tripod." When I first saw his picture and fell in love with him, his foster was trying to gloss over the fact that he was missing a foot, but that makes me love him more.

Unfortunately, he's deathly afraid of the dog. My other cat, Stacey, who's also a street cat, doesn't take any sh¡t from the dog and I wish this one would learn from her.

Edited at 2013-08-11 06:35 pm (UTC)

We actually have a three legged cat too. Poor thing was found starving on a cactus. My fiance had to basically bribe him to come out from under the bed when we first got him and he's still afraid of most people, but for us he's a little love muffin.

That's the king of the cats right there.