Friday, July 3, 2015

When a Man Loves a Feline

“Pussycat, pussycat,
I love you.
Yes I do,
You and your pussycat eyes”
 – Hal David

For Lily, who initially invaded my heart, Gracie, Doobie, and the cat of the hour, Spanky.

This is life, whilst still breathing we are who we are, full of fine qualities and equally full of faults. However, once passing on to the great beyond, the negative characteristics are quickly forgotten as they melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops, and we all become the epitome of perfection, the stuff of mythology and legend, beloved beyond the reality of our actual existence.

During a recent day turned to night of tribulations and travails trapped in an airport terminal with undetermined time and means of escape; followed by a flight awash in never-ceasing turbulence,  it occurred to me that it would be beneficial to express our appreciation for those we admire, respect, adore and love while they can still be cognizant of our deep devotions, and with that in mind, and with your kind indulgence, I dedicate this particular blog not to a fellow homosapien but, instead, to a needy, sharp-clawed, fuzzy feline who has forcefully wrenched open the ventricles of a hard-hearted cynic to the previously unexperienced wonders of the domesticated animal kingdom. To paraphrase Maurice Chevalier as filtered through the Marx’s in Monkey Business, he brought a new kind of love to me.

My boyhood home was totally and utterly devoid of pets. All non-relative animals were banned from our household like D.H. Lawrence novels from a Catholic school library. Consequently, I underwent that vital, childhood, pet ownership rite of passage in my forties and fifties and, with that vantage point, may have an even greater indebtedness for it than those who take this unique experience of caring and connection between species for granted. Can one undergo significant temperament metamorphoses so far removed from our wonder years? Assuredly, Spanky’s presence has made me more compassionate, considerate, patient, empathetic, loving and, most importantly, less selfish - although there’s still many more miles to trek on that evolutionary journey.

Spanky came to me through the good graces of the American Humane Society, a worthy and noble organization who will be remembered in my will, and so benefit greatly from those Hellman’s jars of accumulated copper coinage. He was but a three month old kitten - feisty, mischievous, energetic and openly affectionate, and it was he who chose me, determinedly shadowing my every step and demanding my complete attention with his nonstop meowing, chattering and chirping. Then, faster than a speeding bullet and the failure of the Donald’s presidential aspirations, there suddenly lurked a 12 pound beast in my apartment. repeatedly knocking down a 6 and a half foot Christmas tree, and clawing divots in my chest while contentedly purring.

Those talkative communiqués, adorable from the babe, continue these more than 19 years later, and oftimes now come out cranky and crabby in tone, reflective of his senior status and state of mind at 133 human years. He was diagnosed with kidney disease and given but a few months to live – 5 years ago, and currently consumes a cornucopia of pharmaceuticals and supplements to combat that malady as well as hyperthyroidism and hypertension. Spanky is on Medicare and Social Security, participates as an active member of AARP, wears a First Alert bracelet and cannot be dragged away from the television screen when PBS shows Lawrence Welk, having developed a particular affinity for the terpsichorean talents of Bobby and Cissy. 

We are now a duo advancing in age together, keeping each other company (who else would have us), sometimes cantankerous, sometimes cross, with the occasional ornery argument and a mutual comprehension and easy interspecies interaction that at times, still amazes – our bond has never been stronger. The older and frailer he becomes, as the period of our partnership inches ever closer to its inevitable conclusion, the further my fondness flourishes. Over the course of this lengthy life, more than a half a century and counting, he's one of the best things to ever happen to me.

The way I see it, Spanky’s a buddy who just happened to be born a cat, and we're both better for whatever happenstance happily united us. I understand him and he understands me. He’s my Sancho Panza, my Bucky Barnes, my Watson, my Garfunkel.

My cat, my friend, my boy – if only you could read.

I’ve got a cat on me
Where a cat ought to be.
Sprawled out flat on my lap,
For his ninth daily nap.
When he wakes he will mew
For a can of cat stew.
Til he finishes, then
He’ll be sleeping again.
That’s a feline existence,
Free of any resistance.
With no struggle or strife
How I envy that life.
When I pass to the grave
If my soul can be saved,
Please, oh Heavenly chorus
Make me a Tom or a Morris.

Of course, the only melody that immediately comes to mind when contemplating cats, is this Bacharach/David, Tom Jones pop classic that, in actuality, has absolutely nothing to do with the Felis Silvestris Catus, but enjoy What’s New Pussycat?

Any comments, questions, criticisms, candid confessions, cash contributions?  Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.


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