Anona Diamond in the Ruff is the most eligible bachelor in the cat world. Ruffy, as he is known to his fans, is a veritable Mel Gibson. One look at his bod and owners of female felines offer $1,000 to give their cats a chance to bear his kittens. The Persian has the perfect physique: a compact 10-pound body, flat-as-a-board face and mushroom-cloud coat. And to cat-show judges, he’s a regular Perry Como, so mellow that he endures hours of prodding without scratching or hissing.
A puss with this much poise should be a grizzled veteran of the show circuit, but Ruffy is only 9 months old. Having won the Kitten division in 15 straight shows over an 18-week period, he is surely the Kitten of the Year. Yet Ruffy’s not sitting pretty with just that title. Now that he is more than eight months old, he can qualify for Cat of the Year. No animal has ever won both titles in the same season. Ruffy, who padded away with Best in Show at New York City’s Madison Square Garden in January, has until April 30, the end of the competitive year, to make his mark. “The remarkable thing about Ruffy is his age,” says Vicky Markstein, whose cat Petmark Avalanche was second runner-up at the Garden show. “To be so good, so young.”
Ruffy already knows the perks of stardom. His pamperer is Jim Costello, 36, a divorced marketing consultant in L.A. and former business manager of the International Cat Association. Twice a day Costello serves Ruffy a delicate mixture of lean ground beef, vitamin and calcium supplements, tomato juice, a raw egg and an expensive brand of dry cat food. On Thursday nights Ruffy gets a 90-minute grooming session, which includes a detangling with stainless steel comb, mineral oil ear cleaning, lathering with cat shampoo and a 40-minute blow-dry.
“He’s sort of a clumsy oaf,” admits Costello, “the kind who will leap for a couch and miss.” Still, Costello has turned down offers of more than $3,500 for this cat-o’-nine-months, whose offspring could sell for up to $2,500, a nice way to repay Costello’s $14,000 or so cat-costs in the past year. Ruffy will take a rest from competition in May to begin breeding. Until then he’ll be rounding up as many ribbons as possible. Last month a judge in Seattle had the temerity to rank Ruffy a lowly sixth-best in show. “The judge made a point of telling me earlier,” says Costello, “that there’s no such thing as a perfect cat.” One look into Ruffy’s enormous copper eyes makes it clear that he, for one, categorically disagrees.