Spike: memoir of a church cat

Poison ivy was a downside to the week I decorated the church for Thanksgiving but there were many upsides.  One of them was Spike, a stray tuxedo cat who took on the post of greeter and usher to everyone who entered the church through the east-facing double doors.  His suit was a bit shabby – it’s hard to look your best with dirty, matted fur, skinny legs and scabby, bumpy skin.  But what he lacked in appearance he made up for with affection and rumbley, purry gratitude for every kind word and loving pat.


Spike looked forward to my arrival every day.  He knew I would fill his water dish (a fluted sugar cube serving bowl borrowed from the church kitchen) and feed him Purina cat chow under a picnic table near the double doors.  He kept me company while I carted pumpkins, cornstalks and trimmed grapevine.  He often declined to eat until I’d disappeared behind the church doors – eating was a waste of precious moments he would rather spend with me.


Children loved Spike because he loved them.  He probably had more names at one time than any other cat in history because each child felt that Spike was their cat.  On Youth night that week, he left my side to hold vigil with a teenage boy sitting at the picnic table alone in the dark.  After a while, the two got up and walked slowly together, each one attending to the other with the utmost tenderness and concern.  I smiled and my heart filled with aspirations for Spike.   I saw him wandering through the pews or curled up under the office manager’s desk after a night of mousing in the basement, the church pet warming the hearts of the congregation in the tradition of Leo the Magnificat. tuxedo cat

Alas, Spike resembled Leo only with his black and white fur and loving disposition.  He wasn’t fat, he wasn’t conveniently clean and he certainly wasn’t wearing a flea collar.  A few grownups forbade small children to touch him and talked about how best to rid the yard of his scraggly, undesirable presence.  I sat in the front pew of the sanctuary tying curling ribbon to mini pumpkins when an informant slipped up the aisle to tell me that in the foyer at that very moment, a coup against cats on church property was on the phone with someone who was coming to collect Spike.

I didn’t linger anymore at the east facing doors after that.  There was too much to occupy me indoors, arranging chrysanthemums, pumpkins and trimming sprays of berries.  I saw the man who came to get Spike; he came into the church briefly before going back outside.  I placed a single stalk of vivid red berries in a slim vase.

I can’t save every homeless cat, especially single, fully grown male cats.

I arranged three tiny pumpkins around the vase and stepped back to study the effect.

The cats at home would thrash him, ostracize him and guard the food bowl.  It wouldn’t work.

At least that’s what I told myself while I didn’t run outside to intercede, while I didn’t tell the man that Spike was my cat and that he was coming home with me where he would be fed, warm and loved.  I guess Spike wouldn’t have shared my doubts about going to a place where he could be with me every day.  I guess he would have wanted me at least to try.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Michael on October 16, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    For the record… I officially asked “the man” not to come for the cat. 🙂


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