In the dispensing of Spot’s estate, there were many simple decisions to be made. Where should the litter boxes go? The trash. What should we do with his food dishes? He ate from a rotation of ramekins and saucers, so those simply ceased to be placed on the floor.
Spot was a cat with many toys in the sense that we bought him tons of them. Balls with bells in them! Stuffed trout! A cat-sized mouse with ribbed belly for scratching! Crinkle mylar balls! Catnip mice! Plastic loops! Battery powered hamsters! Feather darts!
Spot was a cat with few toys in the sense that he largely ignored all of them, leading to a giant crock filled with unused toys. He primarily concerned himself with his fur mice, his squeaky mice, curling ribbon on gifts, hair binders and his leash (it might be a snake).
Last night Mom presented me with two mice and asked me which I would prefer. There was a fresh looking blue mouse that had two eyes and a set of whiskers. And then there was Yellow Mouse.
As a Tiny Cat, Spot was a great retriever of mice. We joked with family friends that he was really a Siamese Retriever, because we would squeak the mouse and then we would throw it across the house where it would first hit the wall and then fall to the floor with a second thud. A thundering set of paws would follow and shortly thereafter the mouse would be returned to us for another round of Hunting. As Spot grew older, the need to retrieve diminished, but his desire to prey upon these static creatures remained. So our bobcat-sized Siamese cat continued to stalk. Throughout his life, when we were not home or able to Hunt With Spot, it was not uncommon to come home and discover a mouse either drowned in his water dish or placed in his food dish. How else could he tell us that he had made a big kill in our absence?
So I chose Yellow Mouse, because his eyes are long missing as are his whiskers. The yellow flocking that remains is barely yellow, and the rest of it has worn off as the result of many battles. Yellow Mouse, who was always vanquished and never a victor, was a worthy adversary for Spot.
Mom handed Yellow Mouse to me last night in the hallway and I squeaked him and that was okay. And then she looked at me, told me that I was doing it wrong and proceeded to throw the mouse against the wall where he made a first satisfying thud and a second, more bittersweet thud as he hit the ground to the absence of thundering paws on the attack. My heart clenched a little bit then, because I realized that this is precisely the sort of thing that you don’t even think to miss until it is directly in front of you. The squeak of the mouse. The thud. The thundering paws. It is so strange to think that something so small, a mouse with its own tenuous grip on mousehood, could open such a hole.