Friday, May 2, 2014
Ninety-one-year-old Claymon Grimes stands in the pouring rain Wednesday, outside the Saint Frances Animal Center on Ridge Street. This is the 14th day in a row he has stood here.
“Nuis, come on Nuis, here Nuis…”
Although cats rub against his legs and twine between them, a big orange long-haired tabby is nowhere to be seen.
“Men don’t usually get attached to cats but I’m attached.”
With the aid of a cane, Grimes walks inside the shelter and settles on a small couch. His story is simple, yet heartbreaking.
Nuisance is a large, neutered male cat with a big fluffy tail and a blind right eye. Nuisance and Grimes have been together for 15 years.
“When I got him his eyes weren’t open…he was that little. I put him on my lap and we bonded. He grew up in my lap…I was his Daddy as far as he was concerned.”
Nuisance earned his name by biting people’s heels, Grimes said. “But he never bit me.”
Grimes and his wife Harriet, 87, live on Prince Street in a house built by Harriet’s ancestors in 1790. Harriet’s family owned the land since 1775, a year before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
There they raised their family of three children – Happy Grimes Wilcox, Bubba Grimes and Jack Grimes.
And that’s where Nuisance and his best friend Delta – an 11-year-old female black lab – live and play.
“They are good friends,” says Grimes. “Nuisance would pick on Delta and Delta pick on Nuisance and they would jump around and play with each other. We all go for walks around the block…a little parade…me, Delta and Nuisance.”
Nuisance likes Delta but has no use for other cats, which makes what happened predictable.
On April 15, Nuisance went missing. An indoor/outdoor cat, Nuisance would spend his days in and out of the house but always came in at night. Not April 15.
On April 16, Grimes daughter happy called Saint Frances and was told that no cats had been turned in, in more than a week.
On April 17, Wilcox calls her friend Paige Sawyer and asks him to email all the city residents he knows asking if they have seen the cat.
Within an hour, Sawyer gets a call from Chris Moore who tells him the city animal control officer had been trapping cats two doors down from the Grimes’ home at Winyah Indigo Hall because cats had been getting into the basement.
Moore called animal control – Shelley Brantley – who confirmed he had trapped a large orange tabby who was “very friendly.”
Wilcox calls Saint Frances back and is told that an orange tabby had been brought in but because they “could not find a microchip,” they had vaccinated and chipped the cat. (Nuisance was microchipped.)
But, they tell Wilcox, the cat didn’t like being inside with other cats so they put him outside in the cat sanctuary where there are 75 to 100 other cats.
The cat sanctuary is the yard and woods next to the shelter. It is not enclosed. The cats run around loose and are fed by the shelter and once a year, vaccinated.
Wilcox and Grimes rushed off to the shelter and spent two hours calling for Nuisance. He didn’t come.
“Nuisance always comes when I call. He hears the car and comes running,” said Grimes. Nuisance loves the car, he explains, because Grimes frequently takes him to their beach house in DeBordieu.
The shelter told Wilcox they had not sighted Nuisance since April 21. This has not stopped Grimes or his family. Granddaughters, grandsons, sons and daughters have all been to the shelter looking for Nuisance.
Grimes said the first day he and his daughter drove very slowly home stopping and calling along the way to no avail.
Nuisance, they said, is a fierce hunter. In fact two days before he disappeared, he caught a squirrel that he proudly brought home to his family.
“But,” says Grimes, “its six miles between there and home.
Wilcox said Nuisance is very street savvy. Their only concern is Fraser Street.
Grimes just wants Nuisance safely home.
“Delta misses Nuisance,” says Grimes.
So does Grimes.