Monday, May 14, 2012
Requiem for El Gato Loco
Cats are too aloof for me. They are secretive and not particularly affectionate. Dogs are panting, tail wagging bastions of love. Take out the garbage and come back in. Dogs greet you with fiercely wagging tails, yips of joy, and adoration. Cats don't care if you are around or not.
Alex started lobbying for a cat about 20 years ago, but I held fast on my decree of "No Cats!". My husband loves all creatures great and small. He thought a cat would round out our little family just perfectly. I had my doubts. First, I don't like cleaning litter boxes. I don't like the smell of litter boxes in a house. The whole concept of a litter box sort of turns me off. Why can't a cat just go outside and do his or her business in somebody's garden? In fact, I'd prefer that the cat just go to someone else's garden. Not mine. Then there's the matter of house training cats. They jump up on kitchen counters every time they turn around. They lick their butts and then like the stick of butter on the counter. They also shred furniture and draperies and carpet with their claws. Great.
After a couple of years of constant pleading, I finally relented and told Alex to go get a damned cat if he really wanted one. Alex acted like he had won the lottery!
I was at work when Alex called and said "I got our kitty." I envisioned a little white furry kitty that we would probably name "Snowflake" or something equally sugary. That was not the case. Alex brought home a cat he named "Smokey Joe". The cat was about 5 months old, a black tabby, with a torn ear and a bad attitude. There was nothing "kittenish" about Smokey. He hissed and popped. He clawed and bit. In other words, I fell madly in love with him.
Smokey terrorized people. He got his claws into my Mom's hair sprayed "do" and made her scream. If a visitor used the bathroom, he stuck his long black front leg in under the door to tap them on the foot while they sat on the pot causing the visitor to scream. He jumped in the bedroom window about 3 AM every night and landed on our heads reminding me of Cato in the Pink Panther movies.
Smokey would also hide on the rise of the stairs so if one wasn't watching their steps coming down, he would trip the person. Good times!
Oh Smokey wasn't all bad. He liked to play soccer and catch. He would sit atop his tall cat "tree" and let us toss balls to him that he caught and tossed back to us. He also sang Chinese Opera. Alex did not train him to stay off the kitchen counters, but I did. I found that if I screamed like a banshee and ran toward him at the same time, it would scare him enough to finally stop the counter walks. I'm sure my neighbors wondered at the shrieks, but nobody ever called the police.
Years passed and Smokey mellowed a bit. Old male cats get sort of loving. He would spend evenings sitting on the arm of my chair while I petted him and he nuzzled me. He also liked to sit on my lap when I was at the computer.
Smokey was 17. I never really saw the transition from young cat to old man cat. The combination of age and a pretty drastic cancer diagnosis from the vet made it necessary to put Smokey to sleep last Wednesday.
I'm still not a cat person, but I loved him and I miss him very much. I doubt I'll get another cat.
There was only one Smokey Joe.