A Spike By Any Other Name

I feel kind of guilty about Spike the Cat. She’s kind of mean. Sometimes in the morning when I’m trying to get out the door she doesn’t want to go down the stairs (and I totally feel her there) and I’ll try to assist her with my foot and she’ll just sink her claws into my leg. She yowls a lot and does this thing, sometimes, early in the morning where she runs all around screeching and tearing up the carpet until I get up to let her out. She only likes to be pet when and where and how she wants to be pet, and even on the rare occasions I get the Petting Protocol right, she may sink a claw into my leg just for the hell of it. Her face always looks like she’s stuck in the middle of traffic with a whiny toddler in the car and she’s almost out of gas and there’s someone cutting in front of her and she has to pee really bad. Of course, most of this behavior is Straightforward Cat, I realize. But still.

As I’ve mentioned before, she’s not really my cat, she in fact belongs next door at Carl’s house. She likes me best though, which is not, frankly, saying all that much. It’s really only saying that she sinks her claws into my various body parts about fifty percent less often than everyone elses’. I think she had a difficult kittenhood. She came here with her lackwit brother from a farm in Idaho and moved into a house that did not, technically, have a roof at the time. A house full of boys who thought it was funny to dangle her upside down and staple her into paper bags to see if she could get out (she could, and immediately sunk all her claws into the neighboring hands). They used to let her eat yogurt out of those little containers and she would get her head stuck in them and freak out. They didn’t spay her on time so we all had a rough week when she Became A Woman. She broke her right front leg, possibly from an old rat trap out in the woods by the house…this, technically, was no one’s fault, but still. She used to chase her dolt brother and beat him with the cast. That part was pretty funny. Still, I feel that if I had been living next door at the time I could have made sure she was spayed on time and that no one locked her in the attic for hours (again, no one’s fault, but still) and that she didn’t get held upside down too much. I could have put butter on her feet when she first came, which is my mom’s time honored method of preventing a cat from running away.

But most of all, I could have prevented her from being called…Spike. Spike is not a good name for this cat, I don’t think. Carl and I have this theory that it’s sort of warped her personality and made her more prone to sinking her claws into hands. You know, Spike. Big mean crazy Spike! Spike will put a, yes, spike through your heart as soon as look at you! Spike wears a…count on it!.. spike collar and isn’t very nice to the other children on the playground! Spike cheats on you and breaks up with you on your birthday and tells everyone about all the weird stuff you do in bed and isn’t even a good kisser. Spike hides the stash in your apartment and can’t be reached when the cops show up. Spike always changes the radio station when you’re listening to the Flashback Lunch. It’s so hard to say “Spike” in the correct babytalk pet voice. For real, try it. “Come on, Spike! Who’s a good cat? Where’s my good little Spike? Sweet little Spikey wikey bikey! Gooooood kitty!” Totally doesn’t work.

So we’ve decided to call her by her middle name, which, for some reason, is Josephine. Yeah, the cat has a middle name. Oddly, her chucklehead brother doesn’t, but whatever. He’s got his own problems. Josephine just came out of nowhere, as in “Spike Josephine, either you come in or you go out. There is no in between, ‘kay?” I’ve refused, on principle, to call a cat Josie, but Josephine is okay with me. That’s a classy name, right? Shades of Little Women, which is always good, and definitely shades of Sexy Librarian. She’s a brown and black tweedy colored sort of cat, so I don’t feel any need to call her Belinda or whatever, as I might if she was a white Persian. Somber yet mischevious. Smart yet goofy. Furry, yet slow to sink a claw. This sounds good. Out with the Spike, and in with the Josephine!

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