His foster name was Joshua. Not very clever, but I suppose if you were tasked with naming half a dozen new cats a day like the good people at Memphis Pets Alive, your well of memorable names would run dry, too. If it were up to me, I’d open a random page of the dictionary, close my eyes, and point. Some potential adopters may disapprove, but let’s be honest; you’d never forget a name like Froth, Pusillanimity, Nudie, or Hepaticocholangiogastrostomy.
I accepted the fate of a fifth cat as easily as I would have accepted unanesthetized dental work; however, shortly after Damien settled in, he withdrew into seclusion. His numerous attempts to socialize with his new siblings failed. Zoe, Elvis, and Reese (or as I now call them, The Curmudgeons) reacted to their new brother the same way I react to church: with a lot of hissing and swiping. It was ruining Damien’s spirit, so to regain his happiness, I was forced to open our home to his former foster buddy, Joshua.
Joshua is unique in that he has an incredibly large harelip and a deviated septum. Because of his deformed upper lip, a section of his gums and teeth are always on display. To him, it’s normal. To me, it’s a little disturbing, especially when he rubs that meaty slit on my face (and to my horror, he does this often). We considered correcting the issue, but decided against it, worrying the recovery would be too traumatic.
Shortly after bringing him home, my husband re-Christened the four-month-old kitten ‘Trevor,’ naming him after a character in The Play that Goes Wrong, one of our favorite comedies. I, however, call him Predator Face because how can I not? When he stretches his mouth open in a meow or yawn, his deformed lip blossoms apart like the alien creature when it roars at the end of that 1987 movie. My husband doesn’t like me calling him Predator Face, though, so don’t tell him I still do.
The reunion immediately remedied Damien’s depression, but new kittens bring new problems. Due to Predator Face’s deviated septum, phlegm accumulates in his sinuses. Once full, the deformed-faced cat alarms all who are present with not so much a sneezing fit as a sneezing tantrum. If I must paint a better mental picture for you with words describing comparable behavior, I would have to say “demon possession.”
Scrunching his face and twisting his head, Predator Face will fire off a rapid succession of violent sneezes. After the fourth or fifth, he’ll lift his front-left paw to his nose, his toes spread, his claws extended. Typically around the dozenth sneeze, a pea-sized wad of snot is fired from his nostril. It’s ejected with such force, the repulsive slime is flung a good seven or eight inches across the room.
During these outbursts, you want to take pity on him, but it’s best just to stand out of the way. Once expelled, he goes about his day like nothing happened. And when it does happen, it’s best practice to clean it up immediately because experience has taught me that a hearty wad of cat snot dries to a surface like cement.
But to be fair, Predator Face is more than disfigured lips and snot balls. Sure, he has a habit of waxing my face with his cleft while I’m trying to sleep and he ejaculates slime on my walls with his booger cannon at least once a day, but I admit that he has become an excellent companion. Predator Face is intelligent, playful, and affectionate. He doesn’t (can’t) jump on the counters and to him, nobody is a stranger. Most importantly, though, he is Damien’s best friend. But let’s be honest, with a face like that, life won’t get you far without a good personality.