Column: Predator

by Jason Crombie

Seven Cats I’ve Known
Cats are the indomitable apex predators of suburbia. They prey on birds, mice, rabbits, lizards (probably), all kinds of insects—and who knows what else. Even larger animals like dogs don’t stand a chance against cats, and more than one little old lady has been taken down by her kitty and had her face devoured (Google it). They are the quadruped overlords of every residential community in the world–and they will not die. Not the first eight times, anyway. The ninth time they bite it, though, it’s lights out, Felix. Here are seven cats I’ve known and how they finally met their maker.

Tuppence Tuppence was my grandmother’s Persian. She was a farm cat and one day she just up and disappeared. “She went away to die,” was how my grandma put it, lending Tuppence an air of stoicism and dignity. Perhaps a week after Tuppence’s mysterious disappearance, my grandfather was ranging over the grassy fields and came upon what looked like a bloody Andy Warhol wig. It was the remains of Tuppence. She had been taken in the night by a fox.

Molly Molly was my ex-girlfriend’s cat and she had a tense relationship with my ex-girlfriend’s mother, Helen. Sometimes Helen got scratched, sometimes Molly got kicked, but no one ever talked about it. One time I spied them in the living room together. Helen smoked a cigarette and read a magazine while Molly cleaned herself. Suddenly they both looked up and locked eyes. After almost an entire minute of silently glaring at one another, Helen whispered, “Bitch,” and they both resumed what they were doing. Early one morning before sunrise, Molly won the war by defecating in Helen’s left slipper and going off to die under the bed in the spare room.

Eric I was six and Eric was Siamese. I loved Eric. He was a special cat. Like many Siamese cats, Eric came down with pneumonia. He languished in his blanket by the fire, unable to stand and barely able to lift his head. One night, while my family slept, I realized that if I could make Eric walk he’d be okay. I began lifting him up and whispering, “Walk, Eric, please walk.” But he kept collapsing and soon I was weeping in the dwindling firelight and begging him to get better. The next morning my father found me asleep on the floor, curled around Eric’s cold body. How sad is that on a scale of one to ten? Eight.

Snot Snot was a stray cat that my little sister adopted when we were kids. Dad dubbed Snot “Snot” because she was the color of snot. My sister called her Missy. One day I found Snot in the gutter, stiff as a board. She’d been hit by a car, and my sister was completely devastated. We held a funeral in the backyard behind the lemon tree and my father made a wooden tombstone that read “RIP SNOT.” My sister ignored the slight and thanked my father for attending the service.

Arthur Arthur was my friend’s obese ginger tom. He was huge. He could barely move about, and when he did everyone stopped what they were doing to watch in awe. Arthur spent his days dozing on a couch like an oversized, orange scatter cushion. “It’s his glands,” my friend would say. But the truth was he was just a big, fat bastard who did nothing. Arthur died of a heart attack.

Woops My aunty had a cat named Woops. I don’t know why she named her Woops, but it turned out to be fitting. Woops the cat died because she liked to chew things. One day Woops chewed through an electric blanket cord, turning herself into a pile of charcoal and almost killing my sleeping aunty in the process. Woops.

Tim’s Cat My friend Tim’s cat was very sick. The vet said she should be euthanized. 
“The procedure will cost $250.” Tim told the vet he’d take her home to say goodbye to his wife and kids. “See you tomorrow, Doc,” he said, but he had no intention of paying $250 for a procedure he could perform himself. That night, while his family was fast asleep, Tim drank half a bottle of whiskey, mixed some crushed Xanax into a tin of cat food, fed it to the cat, and then pet her on his lap until she slipped away. When he was sure she was gone, he put her in a plastic bag in the freezer and went to bed with the intention of burying her in the morning. At five a.m. he was roused by a scratching sound–the cat was still alive. He let her totter about the kitchen, covered in frost, while he drank the rest of the whiskey. Then he put a cushion over her head.