Mr Gray had a reputation in the CPW shelter as a bit of a tough.
He came in bruised and torn from a grim life on the streets, with an attitude as big as his shoulders. With a question mark over his ragged head about whether he could even be socialised, it wasn’t a promising start for the tabby boy.
However, it didn’t take long before pain relief, regular meals and a comfy igloo roof over his head began to mellow Mr Gray’s behaviour toward people.
But even as he started to enjoy headrubs and contact, it was clear he still chafed at being confined to the shelter.
So when volunteer Kate and her husband Andrew started looking for a cat to join them in their rural Wairarapa home, Mr Gray was at the top of the list.
Kate has been a volunteer with CPW for years, and she noticed that friendlier cats tend to get adopted quickly, leaving feisty cats like Mr Gray waiting longer for homes.
“I wanted a cat that was finding it hard to get adopted,” she says. “We’d been to meet him once, and he was a bit standoffish.
“But cats in the shelter are often only half what they could be, and swiping at visitors can never help.”
Kate was nervous on the home trip over Remutaka Hill to the Wairarapa, as Mr Gray started to wail and wouldn’t be comforted.
“I was thinking I’m going to get home and open the cage and he’ll rip my face off.”
But when the cage door finally opened, Mr Gray was just curious about his new surroundings, and pottered off to explore.
Kate and Andrew were prepared to let him set the pace, and dictate how much attention he wanted.
“And then he just wanted a stroke. Within half an hour, he was snuggled on our sofa.
“I think we picked up the wrong cat. He wasn’t as advertised – he’s so chilled, and he’s bonded to us so quickly.
“For the first two or three days, he didn’t want to be alone. And he still prefers to be with people. He just needed to be away from other cats.”
Mr Gray now lives a long way from other cats, but is still supervised when he’s outside due to being FIV+.
A month into his new life, his personality is as strong as ever.
He chases rabbits in the garden, but hasn’t caught any yet.
He doesn’t like venison (“such a princess”), but likes roast beef.
He’s ripped the buttons off the dining room chairs.
He likes breakfast at 5.30am.
And he has officially been renamed Erwin.
He answers to Ratbag.