Spiff was an orange tabby cat we had that passed away many years ago. The recent encounter with the neighbors cat has reminded me of him. I named him after the Calvin and Hobbs character “Space Man Spiff”. It seemed to fit him, he was a most unusual cat; we had rescued him from the pound and he had some serious cat attitude.
He loved to chew crinkly cellophane wrappers at 3:00 am in the morning and bang and rattle on any items in the room and seemed to love to annoy others. We had to put him and Missy our other cat out in the mudroom at night so we could get some sleep. (Missy was our most loving cat and has passed on as well, you can see a picture of her in the previous post)
Spiff loved to sharpen his claws on the furniture. He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. We eventually felt the need to have his claws removed, not knowing much about the procedure. Spiff was very upset afterward. I’m sorry Spiff.
It didn’t seem to slow him down much but he walked differently afterwards. At that time the vets were found of removing the last joint (or joints?) of the toe and leaving just the pad part. I’m not sure if they still do it this way but I’ll never have another cat declawed. For some cats claws are very much a part of what they enjoy and I can’t imagine any of them would really be fine with such a procedure if they had a choice.
Missy still had her claws but didn’t go out as much as Spiff and generally she left the furniture alone and enjoyed using the cat post.
Encounter with a Golden Retriever
Once we were all hanging around on the porch and a mom with her younger daughter came by with a large Golden Retriever. Spiff puffed up and began making growling noises. Rather than taking a clue and moving on, the family seemed to enjoy watching Spiff and just sort of ambled along pausing unconcerned – after all the sidewalk was a public right of way.
Golden Retrievers are very peaceful dogs and I’m not sure what Spiffs issue was – we had a young child at the time too and perhaps he felt threatened. All of a sudden he sprang on the dog and started pounding him with his stumpy paws. The dog was about four times his size but simply cowered from the experience, rolling on his back and whimpering.
I came down off the porch and called off the “attack kitty” and the dog was not injured as far as one could tell. The people were most upset with me. I remember the daughter saying, “bad kitty, you’ve got a bad kitty”. I considered placing a “Beware of Cat” sign on the sidewalk. 😉
The Indigestible Parts of Bologna
Back at this time sandwich meats came wrapped in this reddish paper looking stuff that I assumed was generally edible but was usually not eaten. People would leave the stuff on the counter after making a sandwich in the morning and rush off to work. Spiff would jump up on the counter and eat it, I caught him doing it. I actually didn’t think much of it at the time thinking it would pass through him like everything else – he seemed to really love the stuff and it was hard to get it away from him.
After looking at it closely though, I noticed it was made from plastic. Why they would choose to wrap bologna in plastic I have no clue, but maybe it was less expensive to make it that way. I figured this was not good for Spiff to be eating so I made a special effort to toss it in the trash if ever I saw it on the counter. Spiff was very hard to train and was always up on any surface in the house so chances were he found a few more from time to time.
Eventually I removed the stuff from my diet having found out that processed meats can be the cause of many bad things growing in your colon and as I’ve aged my tastes for it have diminished. Many years passed…
At a ripe old age Spiff began manifesting the signs of bulimia, he would eat and eat and eat and then purge all over bed, couch, chair, floor, everywhere… At first I thought he had just found a new way to annoy me but as he got thinner I could tell that he was really sick.
I really couldn’t afford to take him to the vet, and I figured they really couldn’t do much for him anyway besides put him down, he was very old for a cat and I figured he wouldn’t survive any type of extensive operation.
End of life issues can be very hard, I found myself getting angry, frustrated, and concerned with the discomfort of the cat at that time but after having had a really hard experience euthanizing a cat before it wanted to go, we both felt that it was best to let Spiff live out his remaining days as nature would have it.
After the Life
I buried Spiff in the yard next to an old stump. An enormous thorny plant grew on his grave. When I tried to pull it out it bit me straight through a pair of thick cowhide gloves drawing blood.
A while later a young feral black cat came by the neighborhood and hung out for many days. He was very friendly and greeted me daily for a while. It seemed like he had a little Spiff in him and was saying, “hey, look at me, I’ve got teeth and claws and balls and everything – never felt better”. I felt happy for the black cat, he almost seemed to want to join up with us but we all felt it was better for him to go off and do what cats like to do.
Months later I’m thinking about Spiff, but still a bit miffed at him for blowing chunks all over everything at the end of his life and then it dawned on me what had happened many years prior with the bologna. It occurred to me that perhaps that stuff had laid undigested in his innards all those years because plastic never degrades or digests. I started blaming myself for all the suffering he went through, “I’m sorry Spiff, please forgive me” I thought as I fought with my emotions…
I no longer blame myself, I think it gives me way too much personal power to think I’m the cause of all the suffering, plus I’m getting tired of crying in my beer. 😀
Very likely Spiff came across some other stuff while roaming around, he had strange eating habits and loved the outside. Perhaps he found some other cigarette butts or plastic wrappers somewhere. I’ve heard there is a patch the size of Texas of plastic junk out in the ocean and plastic bits are everywhere in the environment, many animals succumb to it after ingesting or getting caught in it all the time.
I believe he came back to me with a “no hard feelings” kind of message and I prefer to think there’s a happy cat out there somewhere doing what cats love to do best. Ultimately it feels much better to rest in feelings of love and compassion – we love you Spiff where ever you may be.