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Call Center Purgatory
Friday, August 13, 2004
  The Defiant One

Let's say this counts for a couple of posts....It's a short biography.


I've never been good at being outright defiant. It has a lot to do with many psychological issues, like being passive-aggressive, afraid of confrontation, yada, yada, yada, ad nauseum.

But I knew someone once who was more defiant, and more of a rebel than anyone else I have ever met in my entire life. His name was Siegfried, and he was a 17 pound gray Maine Coon cat. He was the first cat I had ever owned, and my wife picked him up from the pound. He was a beautiful cat, with a wonderful white ruff framed by charcoal gray fur that made him look like he was wearing a gray suit with a ruffly white shirt. Maine Coons also have this endearing quality of head butting you when they want attention.

Like all responsible pet owners, we had him neutered. We also had him declawed front and back after he punctured the waterbed, climbed my wife's nylons on a Sunday morning, and shredded our furniture. Since he was an indoor cat, and we never allowed him outside, we felt this was for the best.

Sigfried changed after this. He was always fairly serious for a cat, and became even more so after this. Not just a no-nonsense seriousness, no, this injustice to his manhood and removal of defensive weaponry pissed him off at the world forever. I think he fancied himself a feline Charlton Heston. He grudgingly forgave us mostly, and snuggled and played with us and was a good kitty at home. But he never did not forgive the vet.

From that time on he was feared at the vet. He had a big red dot on his file which meant "Dangerous Animal". We finally had to muzzle him when taking him to the vet and even then he was treated like Hannibal Lector. He made sounds that would make your hair stand on end, not just screeches and yowls, but a low pitched growl that was unmistakably venomous. He always had to be taken in the other room away from our eyes to get his shot, I always imagined some veterinary SWAT team with Kevlar body armor and tasers holding him down.

Its hard not to anthropormorphize a cat when they display such human emotions. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt if he could have pronounced the "F" sound, he would have let the world know his true feelings.

Sometime, along the way Sigfried got older and no nicer. The veneer definitely wore off and he was splintery rough wood underneath. His ear was mangled after a freak hematoma from getting into some wild catnip and he lost some of his good looks.

After a long weekend away, we walked into the house and Siegfried had heard us coming and deposited a hot steaming pile of welcome home on our bedroom quilt. It was still warm, that is how we knew he heard us coming and was paying us back for leaving him alone for 4 days.

I bear some of the blame for his bad temper. Having had only dogs, I wanted to tease and wrestle with him like my dogs. He would have none of that, I ended up with countless puncture wounds on my arm and one on my nose.

One of the few pleasure he had in life was eating. He ate donuts once, and hissed and growled when we tried to take them away. Since we had no children, there were times we let him on the table. He became utterly shameless. Bacon was his favorite thing in the world, until I introduced him to smoked salmon. I think I was trying to make it up to him for the loss of sex.

The point at which his health and temperament really started going down hill was after we adopted our second cat. This interloper was tougher and stronger and really knew how to fight. It was like watching WWF, and Siegfried always seemed to lose. The new cat actually would body slam Siegfried. He would crouch on the ground, then spring like some furry cobra locking his paws around Sigfried's neck. We kept hoping they would become friends and keep each other company, but it never happened. They would lick each other's ears and 5 minutes later be at each other's throats. Siegfried was no good at fighting, except at dinnertime. He would cuff the new cat multiple times like a feline Mike Tyson if he got between him an his food. This was the one time he was the Alpha cat.

As he got much older, we finally had to banish him to a part of the house with no carpet because of his tendency to defecate on the carpet. He would not urinate on the carpet, but would walk in front of you, make sure you were watching and squat to drop a hot load of love.

As much as it pissed me off, there was always a part of me that respected the pure bile that this animal possessed. You could not punish him, or reward him , or do anything to change his behavior. He was his own person and would not be changed by anyone. He may be forced into punishment, but he would never be changed, or be told what to do. He had a titanium core of defiant rebellion that would have made any freedom fighter, rebel or Hell's Angel drop their jaw in awe. If he could have gotten a tattoo it would have been the Anarchy symbol or the "Don't tread on me" flag.

As he got older and sicker, we finally had to move out of our older house into a new apartment. There was no option left for him. He could be a sweet cat to us from time to time, but no one would adopt him. His litter box activism towards all things carpeted was certainly not a selling point. Besides that, he was throwing up more, and getting arthritic. I did not want his last week on earth spent huddled up in corner of the pound, crying and hissing, when I knew there was no chance for him to be adopted. I had no alternative left but to end his life. Since I felt responsible for some of his temperament, and he liked me least of all, I decided to be one to take him to the vet for the last time.

Laying on the table, I could not even get the muzzle on him. He was so freaked out and mad, the vet actually had to sedate him before he could be put to sleep. After he was sedated the vet started the shot to end his defiant little life, his tongue slipped out. I tried to put it back in his mouth and it would not go back in. While I knew it had more to do with his muscles relaxing, I preferred to see it as the final act of defiance to a world that he would never let conquer him.

As I drove home, I cried more than I cared to admit. He may have been a bad cat, but damn it, he was my bad cat. I had grown accustomed to his little serious face, and the way he shook his ears when he was getting all hopped up on catnip. I even liked the open mouth hiss and the low growl that translated into obscene curses in any language.

I hoped wherever he went he was finally happy. With his contemptuous and rebellious nature, I found it hard to believe he would go to some kitty heaven. I could see him hissing, and biting Saint Peter. No, he would not fit in there.

If he ended up in a dark fiery place, I hoped that they would recognize his pure defiant spirit. Finally, he would have the respect due to a cat of his incredible bad-ass character. Maybe, he would be given the one thing that he really always wanted, but nature had never provided him with.....

His very own middle finger.

 
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