Friday, November 23, 2007

Spanky The Cat

Hi Folks!

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! The cats and I enjoyed a quiet day at home with chicken and noodles all around. I currently have five cats - all indoors, all with claws intact. I meant to stop at two, but sometimes you have to do the right thing even if your wallet takes a hit, so five it is.

The one I want to tell you about today is Spanky. Spanky is a beautiful orange tabby, with vivid markings and a lovely white bib. One of the flea-treatment companies has been using an orange tabby in their advertisements, and that cat looks exactly like mine. Spanky is long and lean, and surprisingly fit given that two of my other cats are huge tubs of lard!

Spanky is the third oldest cat here, chronologically, but a complete baby, mentally. That's what happens when kittens don't get to bond with anyone during their formative weeks. Spanky's development was clearly arrested by a lack of contact with cats or humans, but I don't think anyone here minds his immaturity. I personally find it endearing.

Spanky was dumped at my former veterinarian's office when he was a baby. Because that sort of thing happened a lot, the staff there were always involved in some rescue or other. My friend Sam the Vet Tech felt sorry for him and took him home, but Spanky didn't fit in well at her house. There were already two dogs, several cats, and some noisy adolescents to boot, and all of that scared Spanky. So he pooped on one of the girls' beds, and that got him relegated to the rabbit cage.

The family used to keep rabbits in hutches out by the barn. The last bunny, Elvis, had died by then, but no one had the heart to get rid of the cages just yet. Consequently, they came in handy for poopy little kittens. Sam's plan was to keep Spanky in the hutch until he was big enough to fend for himself among the barn cats. But Spanky didn't know that this was the plan - heck, I don't think he realized there was any plan at all - and as a result, he was pretty lonely out there. When I met him, he was sitting in the cage looking absolutely miserable.

Sam and I were going for a walk around her property, so to comfort the little guy, I pulled him out of the hutch and tucked him up inside my sweatshirt. Only his head peeped out at the collar. He stayed that way the whole time Sam and I walked, and by the time we were done, I knew that Spanky needed to come home with me. It was obvious that he desperately wanted a family, and I had one to give him.

Spanky wanted a family, all right, but what I didn't realize was that he wanted a cat family. He and I got along fine, but it was Muffin he wanted, my crabby old tabby cat who wasn't the least bit interested in raising someone else's kitten. Spanky more or less forced her to take care of him, though, by simply snuggling up next to her wherever she was, and presenting his head for cleaning. For reasons known only to Muffin, she went along with it, as did Buddy, who was at that time about a year old. Between Muffin's ministrations and Buddy's baths, Spanky finally had the family he'd always wanted. Everyone was happy, right? Well....

Everyone was happy until I brought Junebug home. Junebug, her siblings, and their momcat had all been dumped at Dr. Green's. They were being kept in one of the boarding kennels until homes could be found. Sam eventually took momcat and an offspring home, but while they were all still at the animal clinic, I turned up to buy some kibble. Sam told me to go into the boarding area and check out the bottom cage, which I did, thinking there might be some exotic third world critter in there or something.

Instead, I found a momcat of immense proportions, and a number of kittens in a festive variety of colors. Sam picked up a small grey tabby and said fondly, "Look at the smile on this one!" She wasn't kidding, the tiny kitty was smiling happily and that was all it took. "Oh, all right," I groaned, "I'll take her!" By the time I got her home, I'd named her Junebug.

The arrival of Junebug completely destroyed Spanky. The new kitty had poached his role as baby of the family and, having no other obvious identity to assume, Spanky floundered. It concerned me to see the depth of sadness in his huge green eyes, and it took well over a year of special attention from me, along with repeated declarations of, "You're my favoritest cat of all, Spanky," before the veil of doubt began to lift.

Four years later, Spanky has settled back into his comfortable role as baby of the family - mainly, I think, because none of the other cats wants the job. He still demands attention from Muffin who, as an old, arthritic cat, is even crankier and more disagreeable now. More often than not, though, she still caves to his demands for a bath.

Spanky's got an even temperament and an over-abundance of energy with which to play. He's cheerful and loving, and has even taught himself how to head-butt: he discovered that if he sits on my desk while I'm working at the computer and butts my head, he'll get some attention. I give him a lot of credit for teaching himself something new, and for learning how to ask for what he needs. He's come a long way since those lonely days in the rabbit hutch, which does indeed make him my "favoritest cat of all."

That's all for now, folks. Thanks for stopping in and taking the time to read about my critter friends. Next time, I'll tell you about my three-legged cat, Gracie Ellen Tripod. Until then, please be kind to all the critters!

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