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Daddy’s Little Hell Purr

Our life with a (self) service animal.

Our firstborn was a gift from the devil.

He was cute as a button.

My wife named him Sammy, but I called him Jeffrey.

I also called him -

  • Sir Sams-a-Lot
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff
  • Mo Gaffney
  • Senator Saxton of Scootsville (only once)
  • Reginald Veljohnson

We found evil baby kitty at a pet store in a Florida mall where most of Lucifer’s handiwork is typically made available.

The kitten sat alone in an oversized cage with his oversized head. He looked like a fuzzy carnival balloon.

He was last of a large litter, his siblings having already found homes.

The store manager resembled Old Scratch himself but went by Keith — a thinner version of Danny McBride but more fiendish, less funny.

“Pray tell, Keith: Why is this little cat all alone? What’s wrong with him…other than the bulbous cranium?”

“Nuthin’ wrong with the lil’ guy,” he lied. “His head is big because he has so much love to offer and no one to share it with.”

“Awwwww,” gushed my newly possessed wife.

Keith sensed opportunity.

“It’s had all its shots and comes with a week’s supply of cat chow. A real bargain.”

“How much?” I asked.

Your soul.

“I’m sorry, how much?”

“Seventy-nine bucks. What’d you think I said?

“Nothing.”

The look on my wife’s face told me she really wanted the cat, probably because she looked me in the eyes while mouthing the words I WANT THAT CAT.

Two years married and ready to flex my Blockbuster-assistant-manager-salary muscles, I was going to make it happen. We’d just need to skip grocery shopping for the week.

We picked out some supplies, sealed the deal and gingerly placed the kitty in a temporary easy-to-assemble cardboard Pet Taxi™ .

We were officially a family.

Just like The Omen.

Odd things began to happen soon after we crossed the store’s threshold.

What had started as a mild rustling inside the cat carrier was beginning to grow more turbulent. I thought it best to pick up the pace as we exited to the parking lot.

Low, guttural, primeval noises unknown in the animal kingdom emanated from the convulsing box drawing the attention of anyone within earshot.

I walked faster, praying the Pet Taxi™ hugged against my chest was a proudly crafted, 200-pound tested, corrugated Uline masterwork and not just some cheap cardboard piece of crap.

When we finally reached the car, I instinctively popped the trunk for prudent stowing.

This move drew a serious no-no look from my wife. Apparently, the trunk wasn’t good enough for Rosemary’s Hairy Baby.

It was a five-minute drive to our apartment, but the wailing of a thousand tormented Exorcist/Grudge souls broadcasting from the backseat of my Saturn made it seem longer.

For something so young, this kitty was expressing some major, feral, hardened criminal cat rage.

Back at our one-bedroom love shack, I set the box down, opened it and stepped back expecting the Tasmanian Devil to cyclone-spin out and rip the place apart.

Nope.

It was the cute bobble-headed kitten.

We wanted it to feel at home, so we tossed a bounty of fun smack-around toys on the carpet and considerately placed his scratching post next to the porch so it caught a beam from the setting sun.

But the cat opted for seclusion, slinking away and disappearing under the couch for the remainder of the day.

My wife and I had dinner.

We watched TV.

We went to bed.

EEEEEEEE!”

At 2AM, my darling bride’s blood-curdling scream jolted me awake.

What is it my love! Why do you shriek so?

The beast had apparently emerged from his catacomb during the night, clawed its way up our bed and had begun suckling on her neck.

It was becoming clear this cat had not been completely weaned or was Nosferatu or both.

There would be no sleeping tonight.

A week later, I returned to the mall to buy more chow and give Keith a piece of my mind, but the slot where the store stood was completely vacant.

No cages, bins, counters — nothing.

Questions bounced around my head as I headed home:

Had we been the victims of a mobile transdimensional rescue shelter for satanic domestic pets?

Was the store only visible to me and my wife that day?

Had Keith moved to Georgia?

Months passed.

We came to accept Sammy as our son. The evil that possessed him was exorcised as a result of daily doses of love, snuggles and incredible boredom.

The goodness within Jeffrey grew and grew along with his size. (We learned if you feed your indoor cat unlimited amounts of diet food it negates the diet part.)

He became a gentle obese cat, albeit a sickly one. He required several surgical procedures to remove various cysts, tumors and growths of some kind.

During one particularly bad year, Sammy had a completely shaved head and was missing two nipples.

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+22 lbs. = Jeffrey

The vet bills cost a small fortune, but I loved the big guy.

He had quality.

He was also quite talented! He would perform this trick where he’d lay on the carpet, do nothing, and allow me and my wife to name his various body parts.

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A: Leather Flap

B: Muffin

C: Pumpkin Patch

D: Handle

E: Veal Shank

F: Raisin(s)

We would add to this list throughout Jeffrey’s long life, eventually stopping on body part YY.

He lived well and passed into the great beyond on his terms. (I guess body part ZZ would be Sammy’s fluffy, angel wings.)

All that tolerance, nurturing and intensive care involved with raising Sammy took work. It was a good lesson to prepare us for our less fuzzy babies that would arrive years later.

Our new kids, unlike Reginald, are heaven-sent, but thanks to our time with him, as parents, we remain hell-bent.

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warming his muffin with his raisins…obviously

"Hi. My name is Roy." - Now that just sounds stupid. (thehappysidestep@gmail.com)

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