A Persian cat with a rare disorder that makes his hair grow out of control has been compared to a dog, an owl, a gremlin and the Grinch. So it makes sense that his human decided he would be a perfect poster kitty for kids coping with bullies at school. Atchoum, which translates as “Sneeze” in English, and his best friend, Oreo the Cat, have teamed up to combat bullying in a new book for children, “Atchoum and Oreo: First Day at School.” The book celebrates friendship and acceptance of the qualities that make each of us unique.
Atchoum’s distinctive appearance is caused by hypertricosis, which results in abnormal hair growth. His owner, a pet groomer named Natalie who lives in Quebec, talks about Atchoum on his Facebook page. (He also has an Instagram account.) “Soon after being adopted it was discovered I have a very rare congenital condition called hypertricosis (also known as werewolf syndrome). It’s less scary than it sounds. It means I have a hormonal condition that causes fast and continual hair growth and the thickening of my claws. I also have tiny teeth but that doesn’t stop me from eating well. I’m well cared for by a veterinarian who will monitor my health. Since I am the only cat known to have this condition, is unknown how it will progress. Life is good. I feel good and I believe we need to enjoy every day.”
Atchoum’s wild facial hair and his gaze, sometimes described as “soul piercing,” have earned him a large following on Instagram. He and his friend Oreo are Canada’s leading cat celebrities. They have been featured by media outlets around the world and were invited to appear on the Ellen Degeneres Show.
Natalie says that she intentionally does not “over groom” her kitty because she likes his “mad scientist” look. We do too. Atchoum and Oreo’s new book came out this month and is available on Amazon.com.