No one loves like Gaston

By Carol Rolf

Gaston the hunter may be the villain in Disney’s animated feature film “Beauty and the Beast,” but Gaston the cat is certainly the hero at the Pope house in Conway.

“We all love Gaston,” said Courtney Pope, referring to herself, her husband, Brad, their sons, Spencer, 23, who recently married Lizzie, and Luke, 19, who attends the University of Central Arkansas, and their daughter, Bailey, 16, who attends St. Joseph School. Gaston is the family pet – a Ouachita British shorthair cat they adopted in 2019 through a friend from a veterinarian in Plainview (Yell County).

Luke (from left), Courtney, Lizzie, Spencer, Brad and Bailey Pope (in front) love the family pet, Gaston. They take their Ouachita British Shorthair cat to Hartman Animal Clinic because the staff is personable and treats Gaston like a member of the family.

“They sent us a picture of him,” she said. “We fell in love with that picture … his little smushed face … and knew we wanted him. We had a kitty before and knew we wanted another one.

“We had to have him,” she said, laughing. She added that Gaston was already named when they adopted him.

Pope said Gaston loves to cuddle. “If you are sitting, reading a book, he wants in your lap,” she said. “He wants to snuggle and cuddle. When the kids’ friends come over, they all want to see Gaston.”

She said Gaston enjoys “any kind of pet treat, sushi made especially for cats, even yogurt. He goes crazy for yogurt.” He also has another unique refreshment requirement: He prefers to drink water from a faucet. “He’s so spoiled,” she said, laughing. 

Gaston has a few purrfect sleeping places. “He sleeps most of the day in a closet,” Pope said. “We go off to work and come home to find him in a closet. “He also likes shoes,” she said. “If he finds a shoe on the floor, he will lay his head down on it and take a nap.”

Gaston, weighing about 11 pounds and sporting a coat of gray and white, is an indoor-outdoor cat. “He has a cat door he can use to go outside,” Pope said.

Photos by Mike Kemp

She said they have never taken him on a trip. “The only trips he takes are to see the vet,” she said. The Popes take Gaston to the Hartman Animal Clinic in Conway.

“Greg is a church and family friend,” Pope said, speaking of Greg Hartman, owner of the veterinarian clinic. “We’ve always used him because Dr. Hartman and his staff are so personable,” she said. “They understand that a pet is part of your family. They treat your pets as family.”

Pope said they got Gaston “right before the pandemic (caused by COVID-19). “Brad always worked at the office before that,” she said. “But afterward, he had to work at home. Gaston sat by his side every day. They built a special bond, which continues to this day.”

Pope said their daughter, Bailey, calls Gaston a “comfort cat.” “Bailey will come in and say, ‘I need a comfort cat,’ and Gaston will go right to her.