Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Few Words About the Greatest Cat in the World

I was first introduced to Spike when I began dating my future wife in 2002. Spike was 30 pounds of terror in a gray-furred, Tabby cat shaped bag. It was not safe to pet him before he made his introductions, and it was of paramount importance to watch the flicking tail to figure out when to stop. It was important to show respect to Spike at all times. To do otherwise would result in some part of you bleeding from (from his point of view) a well-deserved scratch. Occasionally, he would just whack you for no particular reason, maybe just to remind you that he was there.

Outside of his close group of humans, he was generally considered a vicious animal. Certainly that's how the vets regarded Spike. Once at the vet's, his cage had a plastic sheet tie wrapped across the front of it. It was explained to us that during his stay he had been in the habit of swatting people as they walked by -- apparently bad enough to require a human protection barrier.

After knowing me a while, Spike decided I was an OK human and we began to get along. Still, he would never let me forget that in his house, he was boss. One evening, when I was staying over and in bed with my soon to be wife, Spike crawled up to lay across my chest in the dark, purring loudly as I pet him. Then, he gently reached up to my neck with one paw, laid a single claw alongside my jugular and stared deeply into my eyes. The message was clear. "Don't you dare screw this up."

Spike taught me a very valuable lesson. Unlike dogs, which are genetically predisposed to be smarmy little brown-nosers, cats have no compulsion to love the humans they live with, but in time they may choose to love us. Spike chose to love us, and that was certainly something special.

Sadly, Spike became ill with cancer in October of 2006, and died soon after. He will be sorely missed by many, but his memory lives on in this blog, and around our house. The Spike memorial garden, a small piece of lawn surrounded by the catnip he loved, sits above the rest of the yard, under the shade of a palm tree. We hope his spirit finds contentment there.


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