"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
-- Anatole France
(French poet / novelist)
When Sherrie and I adopted Sugar
on September 15, 2013, she had already turned 10 years old. Prior records indicated that she had been a stray many years ago,
before an older woman took her in and named her "Angel" (ha!). After a few years, that woman had to give
up her cat-child when she entered a nursing home.
next cat-mother named the cat "Chelsea." That older woman died in early 2013 -- leaving her to a temporary
caretaker who worked in a pet store. So, by the time we adopted her, and re-named her "Sugar," this sensitive Turkish
Angora -- having essentially lost three prior owner / caretakers -- had some serious insecurity and, shall we say, anger
For the first two weeks, Sugar hid behind a
corner sectional sofa-- hissing out pure hatred whenever one of us tried to approach her. She would only come out at night
to eat and do her bodily business. Eventually, Sugar started roaming about the home, but ignored us as if we were house servants
not worthy of her attention. Try to pet her and she'd cut you! This went on for weeks, maybe even a few months.
"Sherrie, what's the point of having this psycho cat. She's
clearly damaged and she hates us. Let's give her back and just get a kitten," I said.
But Sherrie stubbornly insisted that in due time, Sugar would warm up to us. I remained skeptical, and would joke that
Sugar was plotting to slit our throats in our sleep. We later found out from the caretaker who brought her to us that Sugar had also just been recently
rejected and returned to her from another adopted family because she was too "nasty."
One day in November of 2013, as I was banging away on the keyboards
writing "The War Against Putin" (originally titled, "The Talented Mr. Putin"), I
felt something rubbing against my left knee. When I looked down, there was Sugar doing the classic cat rub and purring.
I was finally able to pet her without fear of having a vein slit open. Immediately, I called Sherrie at work and breathlessly
delivered the good news. In typical female fashion she replied, "You see! You see! I'm her mother. I knew it would
From that day forward, Sugar blossomed
into this affectionate, energetic and playful comedian who never ceased to amaze and amuse us with some new and creative antic-of-the-day.
However, she always maintained a bit of ferocity and would let us know, with deep hisses, bites and scratches, if she didn't
want to be handled at a given moment --- as evidenced by the classic hissing photo that "youse guys" are all familiar
with. No groomer would touch the wild thing, so we had to take her to the vet for sedation in order to get her nails trimmed.
As for the decision to appoint Sugar to "The
Editorial Board" in 2015, there's a story behind that as well. You see, she had developed the habit of jumping on the
desk as I read or researched, and then staring at the screen. To keep her comfortable and away from the keys, a small bed
and some snacks were kept next to me on the desk at all times. Sugar became my constant reserach/writing companion and a source
of instinctive inspiration -- the emotion-driven "bad cop" to complement my more "reasonable" approach.
By early 2016,
we, er, Sherrie had adopted two other
cats (Bubbles & Honey), which killer Sugar never accepted as siblings. Partially for that reason, and partially
because my then-recently widowered father enjoyed Sugar's company so much, we let her stay at Pop's place about four days
and nights per week. Because I was staying with Pop about three days per week anyway (my brothers covering on other days)
Sugar became very comfortable with the dual residence arrangement. Pop grew to love his new "grand-daughter"
and fellow senior citizen, and the feeling was mutual. Sugar would sometimes climb on his recliner and perch herself on headrest
behind him. She was great emotional therapy for the lonely old animal lover.
From the beginning of this new dual residence situation, I was haunted by this weird and recurring premonition
that Sugar (still healthy at the time), and Pop (also still healthy at the time) would leave this world
at about the same time. Lo and behold, the light-hearted old timers left us heart-broken, one right after the other, at Christmas
time, no less. Dammit Sugar! Couldn't you have given us just a few more weeks to heal-up a bit from Pop's passing?
One week ago, on the morning of my father's final heart failure, my
phone was in my car. My brother, who was at Pop's place, had tried calling me but couldn't reach me. At that same exact moment
in time, Sugar was meowing away in some type of agitated distress. But her food bowl was full, as was her water bowl. What
was she trying to tell me? Her strange attempt at trans-species communication went on and on to the point where Sherrie (who
sleeps in another room due to her bizarre hallucinations of me snoring) came barging in to see what was wrong. Sugar
had never acted this way before.
Was the old
girl sensing her beloved Grandpop's coronary distress from a few miles away, and trying to alert me? I know it sounds crazy,
but one shouldn't discount things we don't understand. God's non-human creatures have powers not known to us.
Sugar eventually calmed down, ate some breakfast, and then groomed
herself as usual. I then saw what was on my phone and rushed to the hospital. It wasn't until the very day of pop's funeral
that Sugar, after a long battle with kidney problems and cancer, took a really sudden and dramatic turn for the worst. The
sad prophecy has been fulfilled. Sugar is on Pop's lap now.
Merry Christmas "youse guys."
1. The "Editorial Board"
in session at a nearby park. // 2. "Pop" (circa 1988)
1: I read in the
Anti-New York Times today that Sugar the Crazed Conspiracy Cat has passed away.
Americanus 2: Well,
I know she abused us horribly, but in a strange way, I'm gonna miss that little Nazi cat.
St. Sugar: Father in heaven, forgive
these two ass-clowns, for they know not what they frickin' say.
Editor: (Palm to face, shaking head, sighing) -- The Boobus Brothers will remain on staff, but
the Board's rebuttals will never be quite the same. Though I suspect that baby-girl might stop by to channel her thoughts
from time to time -- especially if something really big happens in the world. What do "youse guys" think?