By Kari Diane Pike
Initially, Dad called him “Deuteronomy.” His incessant, generator-like purring earned the big orange tom cat the name, “Motor Man.” The name fit him well. He acted more like a person than a cat anyway.
Motor Man loved yogurt. Every time Mom opened a carton, he jumped onto the arm of her chair and tried to snatch licks. Mom would chide him,
“No! Wait your turn.”
Motor Man would sit back on his haunches, twitching his tail in anticipation of the creamy treat, and watching every bite that went into Mom’s mouth. The spoon scraping the bottom of the carton signaled his turn. Mom held the carton up while Motor Man stuck his face in as far as he could and licked it clean. He led a charmed life until Dad developed a severe allergy…to the cat. That’s how Motor Man inherited me.
Moving from a quiet, two-person home to a home with not only small children, but a large dog as well, proved to be a challenge for Motor Man. Gone were his days of being pampered with kitty massages and brushings and, of course, his yogurt fixes. This proved to be an “every critter for himself” kind of home. Poor kitty. But Motor Man adjusted. He learned where to find his food and the litter box, and the best places to hide from excited little girls who liked to play “Dress the Kitty.” He even learned how to use the laundry chute in my bedroom as an emergency escape route.
Motor Man became my shadow. I could always count on him being somewhere near my feet; whether it was under the computer desk as I wrote, or under the table where I studied or cooked. Going down the stairs became hazardous because Motor Man had a bad habit of crossing in front of me. He followed me out to the mail box or to meet the school bus, and always popped out of somewhere in the yard to meet me as I pulled into the driveway after shopping or running errands.
He came close to getting evicted once. Our daughter’s wedding was just a few days away and we were busy with all of the things one does for weddings. Family came to visit, and that included a couple of extra dogs. Motor Man took his usual refuge in my room, but this time he also exacted revenge. I went to my closet to retrieve the wedding dress, to show to a friend, and Motor Man had used the train of the dress for a litter box. Fortunately, the fabric was washable (I’ll save the flooded bathroom part of the story for another day) and I managed to not tell the bride until after the wedding…but Motor Man knew he was not in my good graces for a very long time.
Motor Man liked to leave me gifts at the door. I often found offerings of lizards or geckos on the doormat. Bird offerings were more rare because Motor Man had been de-clawed by previous owners. I should have known something wasn’t right when he left me birds several days in a row. I had seen a number of dead birds in and around the cul-de-sac, but I didn’t really think about it until it was too late. Saturday, I noticed that Motor Man acted funny. By Sunday morning I knew that something was terribly wrong. I made a comfortable place for him on the porch, but he wouldn’t eat or drink. Sometime in the night, Motor Man left this life. I found more dead birds. Someone in the neighborhood is poisoning them.
It feels strange to sit her at the computer without feeling Motor Man’s tail tickling my feet. I miss the gravelly sound of his generator-like purr and the way he insisted I follow him to his food dish and touch his food before he would eat it. I never used to think of myself as a cat person. But then, Motor Man never thought of himself as a cat!