The skinny, spike-tailed, yellow and white kitten was a “gift” from a friend and her cat-whispering husband, who managed to coax the starving stray from the neighbor’s garden.
The kitten instigated a war between her felines, she explained, and must find another home.
I should have known then that he was a natural-born troublemaker.
I named him Atticus, hoping he would grow into the name and become a peaceful, loving writing companion.
I should have named him Attilla.
After showing him his new home, bestowing upon him a multitude of gifts and a nice, fluffy bed, I decided to wait to introduce him to my stepson’s enormous, slow-witted Labrador retriever. Atticus had other ideas.
The moment I placed the kitten on his new bed, he transformed into the Tasmanian devil and catapulted onto the bewildered dog, a hissing, spitting whirl of fur.
I pried him off the dog and separated them, as they remain to this day.
Atticus has no idea that he is a ten-pound cat, and has become the terror of the neighborhood. I recently had to apologize to neighbors after he chased their dog under the car. Again.
He lies in wait on the branch of a live oak like a sniper. No animal, be it deer or dog, is safe from his sorties. My cat, it seems, is the neighborhood thug.
Despite infinite affection and an endless supply of Little Friskies, Atticus cannot get it through his little pea brain that he is no longer a stray. He doesn’t eat, he devours. Jaws unhinge so he can cram as much into his mouth as is kittenly possible. He wolfs down dinner as though he’ll never see food again. He would glut through the entire bag of kibble and start on the dog chow if he could figure out how to open the Tupperware.
Despite his antisocial behavior, he cannot stand to be apart from us. When we go for walks, he follows, hiding in the woods so as not to be seen. I suppose it would ruin his reputation.
He does love to write, though. We do so on the river banks, sitting in the sun. If I don’t
wait for him to come along, he climbs up the highest boulder and howls like wounded banshee. It is a forlorn, paint-peeling yowl that causes neighbors to throw open their windows.
When we are writing, it is the only time he behaves like a cat, batting at the letters
appearing onscreen and stomping on the letter “J.”
I think he’s trying to tell me something.
In spite of his antics, or perhaps because of them, I am besotted with the little beast. Atticus is my Monster Muse—a pint-sized inspiration with the heart of a lion and the soul of a warrior.
We should all be so lucky.