Those of you who know me in meatspace and on twitter know that I have a cat. His name is Sherbert West, after Lovecraft’s Herbert West (you know, Re-Animator!) and he is a Good Boy®. I can’t even begin to describe my feelings about this guy, but I’m still gonna attempt it! (yes this is a post about my cat)
Let me give you Sherbert’s origin story: he showed up as a stray cat a little over a decade ago. He was pretty much full-grown when he began hanging around the house, but it’s hard to tell exactly how old he is. We’ve estimated that he’s probably about 12 or 13 now, so he isn’t exactly a spring chicken. When he arrived, we already had a cat, so taking in a stray was not an option. We tried to ignore him, because we really didn’t even want another cat in the area, but we noticed that he had on a flea collar that was far too tight. It had worn off a lot of the fur around his neck. He was malnourished and the rest of his coat was matted and he looked pretty beat up.
Sympathy weighed out any sort of common sense in bringing another cat into the house. The one we already had, Ginger, pretty much ruled the roost and was very spoiled (she liked to beat up on Sherbert for no reason, but in her twilight years, she would often be found curled up next to him on the tops of the furniture). Usurping this delicate balance by bringing new cat into the mix could have been disastrous. So we brought this scruffy thing in and got him all cleaned up. I wish I had a before photo, but here’s an after:
He added a few pounds, his fur filled out nicely, and he obviously got cute. I mean, look at that thing. Don’t touch that belly, though. He’ll roll up into a ball and yell at you. Tummy time is for showing you what you can’t have, and also cooling off the junk.
Sherbert, as he was christened by my bro, had a difficult time adjusting to living with people. We deduced that he must have been abused at some point, because he was terrified of two things in particular: men, and plastic bags. He still doesn’t like it when the garbage bags are changed, but he’s warmed up to the very person who didn’t especially want him in the house anyway: my pop. “Dad” is who Sherbert waits for. Sherbert especially loves to smash pop’s crotch, much to everyone else’s delight. The best thing is when they sit and pet each other; pop stroking Sherbert’s head, Sherbert pawing pop’s stomach.
Sherbert is also very bad about getting underfoot. His favorite game is “crossing guard,” where he walks beside you, then suddenly cuts across your path and you try not to step on him or fall on your face. This particular game of his has cost him one toe, when he was already down a toe, on his left front paw. The first toe was removed because he had an infected bone from being declawed. Not two weeks after he recovered from this tiny amputation, he crossed in front of pop’s path and had the exact same paw stepped on — hard. A second toe was crushed as a result, so he only has two toes on his left front paw, earning him the first of a million nicknames, “Two-Toes.”
it’s hard to tell with all that fur, but there’s only two toes on that paw.
I don’t know if he also suffered some kind of vocal cord damage from the flea collar that was on too tight, but Sherbert doesn’t really have a normal cat meow. He chatters a lot. He also makes a sound that can only be described as “marf.” It’s almost like a soft barking sound. He is exceedingly friendly with other cats, and gets confused when other cats don’t like him. There is currently an outdoor kitty — Lil’ Punkin’ — who is his ladyfriend. They sit with each other at the back patio, a screen door separating them. He is afraid of storms and small children. He loves yogurt and turkey cold cuts from Subway (just Subway, not any other turkey cold cuts, inexplicably). He is incredibly mild-mannered and non-confrontational. He doesn’t get in your face or steal your food, although if you leave a blankie lying around he’ll claim it within seconds. He has gotten very used to being a housecat.
hide and go seek champion for ten years running
ugh, are you kidding me with this?
In light of all this — his meek personality, his love of blankies and little stuffed toys (he had a Woody from Toy Story stuffed doll from a cereal box that he carried and slept with everywhere) and yogurts, it was nothing but a surprise to find out that the other night, he caught a mouse.
In retrospect, I think he’d been hunting it for several days, and maybe had it trapped under the stove at some point, because he had started this trend of camping out on the kitchen floor right across from the oven. To me, it looked like he was putting himself in time out, sitting there alone, in the kitchen, on a floor mat. This strange new behavior amused us all, so we rewarded him with pats on the head. He probably found this very condescending.
Late, late at night, though, well after mom and pop had gone to bed, I was up looking at the internet as one does late at night, when I heard Sherbert frantically thumping around, as though he was batting around one of his toy birds. So I turned on the kitchen lights and saw that he was hunched over something that was definitely not a brightly-colored catnip bird, I knew something was up. My immediate thought was that it was a small bat, which wouldn’t have been too unusual. We’ve had bats in the house before, and baby ones too. When I tried to approach Sherbert to see what he had, naturally he ran away. Oh great.
The back half of our house is a circuit, in that when you come in from the garage and walk in either direction, you’ll end up back where you started. The family room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom and laundry room all connect in a loop — which, in Sherbert’s salad days, has made for entertaining moments when he decided it was time to literally do some running around the house. Anyway, he decided to head toward the laundry room by way of the bathroom, so I decided to go around the opposite way to head him off. We met in the family room, and that’s when I saw the mouse in his mouth.
Sherbert, in his own mind.
I didn’t know whether to be horrified or proud. I ended up feeling both — this domesticated animal who loves snacks and naps, killed a mouse with his own bare hands. And less two toes than the average cat. Suck on that! However, when there’s one mouse, there’s always more, because mice bring their friends to a house party. So that’s an issue to figure out. But this is a Big Deal. Sherbert West, the Littlest Boss of His Area and miniature cowardly lion, offed a mouse.
enjoy your nap, buddy. you earned it.