Prickly, unfriendly, antisocial. These are all words that have been used to describe me. They are also the same words used to describe my cat. In addition to the standard pre-leaving the house body check for snot, vomit, poop and stickers I also had to check for cat hair.
I’ve always liked cats better than dogs. I’ve always found dogs too needy. Always wanting pet or running to meet you at the door. I’ve always liked my pets the way I liked my women when I was in College, standoffish, untouchable, uncommunicative and as a result obviously gay.
|Forget purse dogs, backpack cats is where it's at brother.|
Smudgie, or as family and friends nicknamed him, “Devil Cat” was totally unfriendly to adults. He would hiss and claw at anyone tall enough to ride the Scooby Doo Ghoster Coaster, whether they were coming by while we were out of town to feed him or deliver our baby (for those confused, we were home when the baby was delivered, mainly because she was sent C.O.D.). The latter resulted in his first night out of the house ever.
|"They won't even see me until I am upon their heads!"|
However to kids he was tolerant. I wouldn’t go so far to say he was good, nice or fun, but tolerant. The girls loved him. We got him before we had kids and probably took him from his mother a little too early. I’m pretty sure I never saw him properly clean himself, but instead would lick his chest hair twice and decide it was good enough, like a newly divorced man washing his underwear with Lysol.
|Now in travel size for the man on the go.|
He would look for body heat wherever possible and lay on our faces while we slept or snuggle with one of the children. I’m still pretty sure he was trying to smother the adults. “Without them I can dress in their clothes and hit the pet food store. I am so jonesing for a hit of the nip!”
|"Am I high, or is a tiny octopus attacking me?"|
|"They get even warmer when they are angry."|
Cats also teach children how to touch gently. One nip or swat from the cat was enough to let them know that not everyone wants a feather boa tied around their waist. This is a lesson that will also serve them well in adulthood.
|"I will not sleep until the mission is complete."|
Though the cat tolerated the kids, I think he was annoyed that he had moved from the number one position to number three in the past five years. He was a very smart and diabolical revenge seeker. He decided the litter box was beneath him (not literally, because it wouldn’t have been a problem if it was) and started pissing in front of the washing machine. The only carpeted area in the house that I have to kneel on, ensuring my knees smell of cat urine, but is just far enough away from my nose that I search the house for the puddle. We will never again buy a front loader, I’ll tell you that!
Sharp eyed readers will have by now noticed that the cat is mentioned only in the past tense. If you didn’t notice, go back and read it again, but this time in a German accent. It will become clear. Sadly, Smudgie went to the big front loader in the sky last Monday. With his rebellious nature and floor peeing we started letting him out of the house. It was win-win. He was happier getting outside and we were stepping in less bodily fluids around the house. I still have two children, so I say “less”. The front and back yard however were not too happy. It appeared that the cat never left our property. That’s why is was such a shock when a neighbor came to the door to tell me the cat had been struck by a car and was dead.
|"Together my Friend we will have our freedom."|
Thankfully this was late in the evening after the girls had gone to bed so they didn’t have to witness it. Worrying about his nemesis, the raccoon, being able to say they won the battle, I placed his body in a cooler and placed him in the shed weighted down by power tools. You know because of the raccoons, not because I was afraid of a kitty zombie.
The other benefit to when this happened was it gave my wife and I the night to game plan on how to tell my eldest daughter. We very carefully planned what to say and when to say it. I was to take the cat to the vet while she ate breakfast and then tell her afterwards. As the saying goes, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Because mice are such great planners. I can’t even count how many times have I found tiny day-planners in our cupboards. Anyway in the morning while she was just waking up I mentioned I was having trouble reaching the vet. She’s a smart kid, we had to tell her then.
|Kitty likes retro gaming.|
She cried heartbroken tears, as did we. No matter how tough sounding my wife and I were when discussing that cat, we loved him. We cried for fifteen minutes straight, and then my daughter wiped her tears away and asked, “Can we get a hamster now?”
Later in the day she would speak to her friend on the phone about what happened, and in her mind the whole thing went down like this. “I think it was two cars that banged together. One bad guy going the wrong way and a good guy going the right way that banged together. Smudgie thought he was an ambulance cat and tried to stop them, thinking he could talk like us, but he forgot he can’t talk. He ran at them and meowed. Then he was dead.”
We decided it would be best that we all walk down to the vet with the cat so we could have a chance to say goodbye and have some closure. My daughter wanted to see him, but I couldn’t let that happen. So I told her no, because he didn’t look good. She wanted details. I refused. I explained that we wanted to remember him how he looked yesterday when he was alive. Thankfully that worked.
We walked down the street dragging this cooler behind us, hoping that neighbors wouldn’t come out and ask where we were going to have a picnic. My social network genius wife had posted about it before we left the house. Thankfully my neighbors are addicted to Facebook so no one asked.
The cooler was loud, so my wife asked me to carry the cooler, rather than drag is on it’s plastic wheels. The cat was no a fit cat, so his weight and the cooler was heavy. I had to stop every half block to rest my arms. Finally we decided the noise was better than my being laid up with a wrenched back. Our sad funeral procession made our way to the vet office, where we took turns placing our hands on the lid of the cooler and saying goodbye. To the cat, not the cooler.
We are trying not to dwell on thinking of how he died, but instead how we loved him. My daughter said it best, “Yesterday he was alive and funner than now.”