When Austin came into the CPW shelter ten years ago, he was not the kind of beast that endeared himself to one and all.
He quickly established a personality that was feisty, bitey and swipey, and most volunteers learned not to get in range of his claws, especially given his long reach.
As a Maine Coon, Austin drew attention for his large size and stunning coat, but his behaviour around people really narrowed his chances of being adopted.
Austin originally lived with a young couple who had him for two years, and then four years with another man.
He was surrendered to CPW at six years old, because his habit of biting was too dangerous for a small child who joined the household.
At the shelter, Austin was settled in for what volunteers assumed might be a longish stay. However, we firmly believe that there’s a perfect home out there for all our cats, even the stroppy ones.
After a couple of months, a gentle man called Martyn proved us right. He came in to meet Austin with his adult daughter, as he’d always heard the breed was gentle and friendly. Very quickly, it appeared that was not the case with Austin.
“He attacked my daughter,” Martyn said. “He was not a nice cat.”
Despite Austin’s appalling behaviour, Martyn was determined to take him home.
They got off to a “shaky start where he bit me and my hand doubled in size overnight”, but with constant gentle care, Austin eventually settled down.
Martyn says it was worth the initial year of feistiness, and they’ve now been together for ten years.
“We get on well, although I don’t trust him 100%,” he says. “I have to sedate him before he goes to the vet.
“He’ll be 16 years in October. His health is ok for his age, but he was diagnosed with the beginnings of renal failure last year so he’s on a special diet.”
Austin is clearly attached to Martyn and enjoys sitting on his lap, although Martyn admits that suggesting that lap-time is over can be a bit nerve-wracking.
“He quite often follows me around the house. I don’t know how many times I have tripped over him but he never stops following me.”
“I do find it very hard to get photos of Austin as whenever I get my camera or phone out, he just wants to smooch around me.
“He has made my life really happy and is the main topic of conversation when visitors meet him because he is a large cat.
“I wouldn’t be without him.”