Spaz entered my life through Chris. On one of our first dates in January 2001, we went to the Houston SPCA so that Chris could adopt a cat. After taking a lap around the cats, I pointed out Spaz to Chris: a cool looking black kitten with a splash of white fur on his chest. I remember waiting nervously while Chris filled out the adoption paperwork, afraid that someone else would snatch him up in the meantime. Once Chris was able to see Spaz face to face, he put on a good show, as Chris says, and he brought him home. Chris was certain he was going to change Spaz’ name to something in a Genesis or Yes song lyric or a Mystery Science Theater 3000 script. Despite that, the name stuck because it was a perfect fit: the cat is definitely a spaz, even today at age 11 or so. While he’s comfortable exploring his quiet side, he definitely is prone to going from 0 to 60, taking off running inside the house, erupting with a strange little bark.
Spaz doesn’t meow like a normal cat, but instead chirps, usually when he’s excited about something. Chris and I like to play hide and seek with him, running around the house with Spaz chasing after us. When we peer around a corner, he chirps and takes off running in the other direction. (There’s that Spaz name again.) When he does his version of a meow, you can see his teeth against his black fur, which always makes us chuckle.
Among Spaz’ favorite places in our home is a cat perch positioned in front of a living room window. He sits there during the day, surveying the De Witt scene. During warm months, as I arrive home from work I’ll approach the window from the outside, which sets him rubbing up against the window screen with a series of his signature chirps. Sometimes when I leave the window, he follows me to another one closer to the back door, howling away.
Of our three cats, I feel I have the least close relationship with Spaz, because he was Chris’ cat first. For this reason, I smile when Spaz rubs up against my leg in the kitchen, even though I know he probably just wants to be fed a treat, one of the few things that he and I uniquely share. I get the same smile if he settles next to me on the couch, or on the bed at night. And at times, he’ll sidle up to me as I’m moving about the house, purring so loudly I can hear him from the floor. I make an effort to take a break and sit on the floor to pet him. Sometimes he sits and enjoys the attention; other times he squirms away, as if my intent focus is simply too much for him.
Just this morning, Spaz went into “kitchen lover” mode as I was packing my breakfast for work. I looked down at my pants legs mid-day and noticed numerous stray black hairs dotting the fabric, another reminder of the extent to which pets leave their marks on our lives.