From feral to fancy: Cat is talk of the town

Posted April 08, 2010, at 9:58 p.m.

BEALS, Maine — When Cheryl Tibbetts rescued a feral cat and its two kittens from a snowbank almost two years ago, her daughter Tammy begged her for one of the kittens. Tammy named the all-black kitten with the huge green eyes Salem.

As it has turned out, Salem is the talk of the town.Unusually sociable, Salem goes everywhere Tammy goes. He loves riding in the car, sitting backward on the console, and makes a weekly shopping trip to Machias. He even has ridden as far as Bangor. He used to go in the grocery cart at the local IGA, but state health laws have put the kibosh on that.

He takes a daily walk in a pet stroller. He wears sweaters and T-shirts, many made by friends on the island.

“I don’t know how it got started,” Tammy said recently. “From the time I got him, I took him everywhere with me. One day, I thought he needed a little kerchief. And it just went from there.”

Salem now has 18 sweaters and T-shirts — and his own bureau. He has a special bed in the kitchen window where he can keep an eye on the island comings and goings.

Tell him to sit? He sits.

Tell him to get in the car? He gets in the car.

On Christmas, Salem wears a red-and-white fur-trimmed outfit.

On the Fourth of July, it’s all red, white and blue.

If there is a chill in the air, he has a bevy of hand-knit sweaters to choose from, or he may want the T-shirt that proclaims “Support Our Troops.”

One outfit has leg warmers and a tail warmer.

“I haven’t had anyone tell me I’m nutty — yet,” Tammy said. “Most people are just surprised that he is so calm in the car and the stroller.”

Salem seems unperturbed by all the fuss, sleeping in the window next to Tammy.

She reached over and stroked his ears.

“He’s riding in the Jonesport-Beals Fourth of July parade,” Tammy said. “We have his wagon all ready.”

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