From the Heart
These days, pampered felines enjoy the food,
accommodations and medical care money can buy.
But none can match the record for longevity achieved by “Grandpa”
No matter how hard they try.
He lived to the slightly overripe age of thirty-four years,
Two months, and four hours-
Earning him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records
And worldwide gifts of cards and flowers.
Grandpa’s life was as strange as it was long. A rare hairless sphinx, he was taken to the Humane Society of Travis County (Texas) on January 16, 1970 by a good Samaritan who found him running loose near a busy intersection. Jake Perry, a plumber, almost immediately adopted him, part-time cat show enthusiast, and feline rescuer. Figuring such an unusual cat must have a worried owner somewhere; he put up posters about him around town. Months later he received a call from a Frenchwoman, who in December, 1969 had come to the United States to visit her daughter. While there her cat, Pierre, had escaped through an unlatched screen door, never to be seen again.
By that time Perry had owned the male sphinx, whom he had renamed Grandpa Rexs Allen, for quite a while. Nevertheless he agreed to let the woman have a look at him. After confirming that it was indeed her cat, she graciously allowed his benefactor to keep him. She even handed over his pedigree papers, which stated that he was born early on the morning of February 1, 1964 in Paris.
A few years later, Perry started entering Grandpa in shows sponsored by the International Cat Association under the “household pet” category. To his great surprise, he feline who was already into his second decade and thus considered old, earned the rank of supreme grand master, the highest possible reward for pets in his division.
As his age reached the high twenties, Grandpa’s fame grew. Each year for his birthday, he got a vanilla cake topped with tuna and broccoli icing. Not surprisingly, he was generally the only one to partake. The rest of his unusual diet, however, would have passed muster with most human diners. Breakfast consisted of Egg Beaters, chopped bacon, broccoli or asparagus, and coffee. (Yes, coffee!!) He also enjoyed either jelly or mayonnaise smeared on his food: he would choose which one every morning by putting his paw on the jar he preferred, (too cute!)
Fortified by lots of vegetables, Grandpa persisted into his early thirties, which is roughly 150 in cat years. Finally, on April 1, 1998, he gave up the ghost after a long bout with pneumonia. After an elaborate funeral, inside a tiny, laced-lined coffin, he was interred in his owner’s backyard pet cemetery, which already contained about two dozen cats. Roughly four hundred fans from around the world sent cards, flowers, and other mementos.
His final honor was, of necessity, posthumous. The 2000 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records duly recognized the wizened French expatriot as the oldest cat who ever lived.. His record just barely squeezes out the previous record holder, an English cat named Ma who survived for thirty-four years and one day, it just goes to show that in longevity, as in any other endeavor, persistence is key.