Chester, branded Australia’s grumpiest cat, will spend Christmas in a new home. He has been returned to animal charity the RSPCA four times in the last seven years. But the charity refused to give up hope and are now sure they have found a purrfect home for eight-year-old Chester.
He was described by his last owner as “anti-social” and “a real Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” but the description didn't put off Wilma who is happy to take in the grumpy cat.
“With Wilma, I feel confident that he’s going to get all the attention he wants – and no more,” shelter staff member Jenny Sherring said. “That’s a perfect outcome.”
On his surrender form, the former owner wrote that while Chester was “great with chickens” and “tolerates the dogs”, he also “attacks our old cat and the neighbours”. She told the RSPCA she had visitors who would not enter the house unless the cat was locked away.
But employees at the Lonsdale shelter south of Adelaide insisted Chester was one of their favourites. He first came into the South Australian RSPCA in 2013, as a young and loveable one-year-old.
“He was a stray from Port Lincoln, so we don’t know what his story was at that stage,” RSPCA’s media relations manager Carolyn Jones said.
“He had a notch out of the ear so he might have been living a bit rough on the street before he came to us, but he was a character from the get-go. He knew what he liked and didn’t like in no uncertain way, but he was extremely affectionate and would come up to you and give you those head-butts.”
Jones said it wasn’t hard to find him his first home but much to everyone’s surprise “he didn’t last too long”.
Chester stayed at his next home for six years but his owner was forced to surrender him when entering aged care. He was well-loved there despite his habit of gentle “biting whenever he wants your attention,” according to the owner.
The third family lasted only two weeks and slowly that independent and loving nature hardened into a grumpy exterior.
“The last report card was particularly surprising. He was with a lady and family that had a lot of experience with cats and he was a bit of a nightmare for them by the sounds of things. You know, making it a little difficult for them to have guests around and certainly not making it too pleasant for the old cat that lives with them,” Jones said.
“She thought she would be able to manage it and unfortunately she couldn’t but she did give it a red hot go.”
Those at the shelter who tried to pet him too much were met with meows and bites and he gained a “bad boy” reputation for bullying other cats. Despite his cranky attitude, Chester was able to win over the workers at the shelter.
Jenny said he was a lovely animal – you just needed to know how to handle him.
“He will swipe but it’s generally just him telling you when he has had enough. He has had four owners so I would say his patience levels are probably at an all-time low at the moment. But if you can learn how to read the signs and you know to tell when he’s had enough, then I hope that we can find the right home for him. It’s just a matter of being patient.”
She was keen to point out Chester’s good qualities for potential new owners.
“He is so chatty, he sees people, comes up to them and chats to them straight away. He can be really affectionate when he wants to sit on your lap, but then when he’s had enough he will simply leave you alone,” she said.
Wilma has owned cats in the past and said she made the decision to adopt Chester after seeing his story on a TV news bulletin.
“I’ve been wanting another cat for a while and I just thought he looked cute,” Wilma said.
“There’s just me, no other animals, and I’m retired so I’m home a lot. He’s been following me around the house already and he sat up behind my head on the recliner.”
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