"Oh, I see you have met R.C.," said Turcea, entering his office, breathless. "And you found him in an appropriate place. R.C. is the real boss around here."
R.C. officially stands for 'resident cat,' but, when he's in a bad mood, which isn't that often, it stands for 'rotten cat,' Turcea said with a laugh.
R.C. came to shelter as a young adult stray about six years ago, having been picked up by Animal Control Officer Larry Gover at a home on Baughman Avenue.
"He was in a lady's flower garden, and she said he was sick and would bite," said shelter staffer Debbie McCowan.
That was probably the last time R.C. has been sick in his life, and biting is as foreign to R.C. as barking, according to Turcea.
"He's never really been sick, unless you consider spitting out an occasional furball being sick," he said. "He does get occasional ear mites from the cats and kittens brought here, but it's pretty remarkable he's been as well as he's been considering the exposure he's had to so many stray animals."
Gets along with humans and animals
As far as biting, Turcea said R.C. might bite his own tail but that's about it. "He gets along with cats, dogs, puppies, kittens and people. He's never met a stranger. He's really one of the most puppy-like cats I've ever been around. He's friendly and playful and funny. He doesn't do hissy fits." But he does do athletic stunts. And Turcea described one of the stunts like a college scout talking about a high school basketball star.
"R.C.'s got an incredible vertical leap," he said. "He can jump flat-footed from the floor into a person's arms - or onto their backs." And R.C. uses that leaping ability to get a drink of water, a stunt that Turcea taught him. I witnessed the stunt: R.C. jumped from the floor to the top of a water fountain and lapped up the water from the fountain spout while McCowan kept the lever in the "on" position.
Just in case there's no staffer near the fountain to turn it on for him, R.C. does have his own water bowl. He also has a food bowl, which usually contains Purina Kitten Chow, said Turcea.
"One of the many ways he acts like a puppy is when he's hungry and one of us is around. He begs like a puppy for food, not that he needs to because we keep his bowl filled," he said.
R.C.'s nutritional needs seem to be well met, but what about his entertainment demands?
"Oh, he's got plenty of toys if he wants them, but he's outgrown them," said Turcea.
"He hasn't outgrown us," shouted McCowan. "We're his toys. He rides around on our backs, hops in our laps and chases us."
Selection of sleeping places
As for his sleeping arrangement, R.C. has a selection of any surface in the shelter, including floor mats, chairs, desktops, tables or shelves in the shelter's main building. But he has a favorite spot, said Turcea. "His bed is anywhere he wants it to be, but there's a high shelf that he especially likes, so we've put a towel there for him to lie on."
R.C. is not the shelter's first pet. There have been two "resident dogs," Turcea said.
"The dogs were too territorial, and that meant that didn't get along with other dogs," he said. "They eventually were adopted."
Turcea said R.C. will never be put up for adoption. That means he will enjoy a long reign as king of the kennel.