Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spike Purrbox: a rememberance

Indulge me for a few paragraphs...I've put off writing this for 6 months. He's been gone that long.

He arrived on the scene about a year after the last of my two old cats went to whatever passes for cat heaven (slow mice, flightless birds). I went out in my bathrobe to get the paper one morning and a little gray tabby-striped kitten, no bigger than my hand, popped up and said "Pet me! Pet me!" Well, he didn't actually talk, but he did rub up against my bare leg and purr louder than I've ever heard a cat purr.

I obliged and he followed me up on the porch and into the house, still purring like a fiend.

I picked him up and tossed him on the bed where my spouse lay sleeping. She was not the cat person in the household ("how long do cats live, anyway," she once asked).

She pulled the covers down from her face and frowned. "Get that cat out of here. You don't know where it's been." Within a month she was letting him sleep on her head.

Youngest son named him "Spike" after a character in a Space Quest computer game. "Purrbox" was a natural addition. Oldest son was a bit of a hold out -- he'd been quite attached to the previous generation of cats and not ready to become attached to another creature that would eventually die and break his heart.

Spike Purrbox officially became our cat the first time he went to the vet on my nickel. $50 for a swollen paw which the doc opined was probably a bee sting. It was the first of many vet bills. He was probably the most expensive cat I've ever owned. But worth every penny.

Friendly and charming though he may have been, he was definitely my cat: I worked from home for the first five years we had him and he followed me around like a dog. He'd stay in my studio and nap while I worked, and come rest on my belly when I lay in bed and read. In the winter he was fond of getting under the covers and sleeping by my feet. My wife and I referred to him as our little heater.

Somehow he'd figured out I was the light sleeper. When he wanted in, he'd get on the ledge outside my window and beat on the glass. When he wanted out, he'd bang on the drawer pulls and wake me up. He had me trained.

Alas, in his old age he got a bit cranky. We took in another stray, which annoyed him. He showed his displeasure by pissing on anything that didn't move. I've got guitar cases, brief cases, you name it, all annointed. Once he pissed on my laptop.

Still, despite his unsavory habits, he was my boon companion.

One day last fall, I realized I hadn't seen him in a couple of days -- not all that unusual. Then the days stretched into weeks and months. By Christmas I pretty much knew he wasn't coming back. Still, I would have occasional dreams he'd show up, dirty and bedraggled, but purring.

Like I said, it's been 6 months. I've looked in all the bushes, under the deck, sniffed around for the stench of decay.

No sign of him.

So guess he's gone.

Hobbes, the back up cat, has taken on duties as the new alpha cat and filling them in his own way. He'd never been particularly affectionate but is now willing to put up with a bit of loving. He even purrs once in a while, something he wasn't in the habit of doing previously.

I guess I've rambled on long enough. He was only a cat. But he was my cat.

Rest in peace, Spike Purrbox.


The Whited Sepulchre said...

Sorry to hear about Spike.
I had one named Bill that I found in a meat locker. Long story.

That cat was great, and I cried when he had to be put to sleep.

Flee said...

As a cat person who has shared her home with more than too many cats I offer my sincere sympathy. They sure can wrap us around their paws.

Dan Brekke said...

Nice, DR.

I'm a confirmed dog guy. But when our last cat went into a sudden decline and died in the pet emergency room on Christmas night, I was really stricken.