But, in all honesty, he never lived up to his slightly amended name, either: Spike.
Fortunately, even a series of ill-fitting names can’t keep a cat from the home that’s meant to be his.
Spike made the journey to Tabby’s Place just over a year ago, as the “funky tuxedo” in a quivering quartet. Classic tuxedo mate Cory was by far the most frightened, trembling in his formalwear and provoking Jonathan to dub him “a horror” during his intake exam. (OK, so he literally climbed the literal wall…in some cultures, that’s considered a show of affection.)
Then there was Tanya, she of the orblike green-marble eyes that would draw you in, then scan you with suspicion as you approached before taking off like a shot.
Melanie was the oddball of the group, a slightly-crosseyed tabby who was already ready to love humans. Naturally, she was adopted in a flash.
But then there was “Spice.” Clearly this timid, but not quite Cory-terrified, boy had rented his tux from an artsy designer shop. You can’t find garb like this in just any prom shop. Matching our handsome guy’s one-of-a-kind look was a curious, hopeful-yet-hesitant personality. “Spice” definitely didn’t want to be hugged and smooshed, but neither was he a horror, or uninterested in these strange human beans surrounding him. The funky tuxedo was keeping his options open.
Once unburdened of his too-girly, too-spicy name and moved to big Suite B, Spike began stretching out, physically and otherwise. After a week or so of cowering at the top of the ramp (a very hip thing to do if you’re a new cat - all the cool cats are doing it), Spike slipped his way down, still remaining over human bean heads, but allowing those beans close enough to get a good look.
I enjoyed many blink-fests with Spike in those early days. While he remained essentially untouchable, he was quite interested in gentle eye contact. Some say the slow cat blink means “I love you,” while others deem it to be a more platonic “kitty smile.” Whatever the exact meaning, the gesture is a lovey one, and this human bean was eager to love on our funky tuxedo in any way he’d allow.
But as months danced by, blinking gave way to petting. I was far from the only one loving Spike, and the dogged volunteers who adored him were convincing him that love is good. Although still shy-ish, Spike was finally, really interested in the crazy human beans who had always been so interested in him. My heart sang when Spike would greet me by rubbing up against my legs, craning his neck to be scratched in all the right spots. He was becoming the love-bug he’d always wanted to be.
Cast aside any images of tough-guy ‘tude or studded collars, because Spike was always a lamb. I don’t think the funky tuxedo would have even taken down one of the stink bugs that bug central NJ this time of year.
Fortunately, Spike has managed to take down the best quarry of all: a mom of his own.
Yes, it’s another case of an AmazingAdopter (it’s quite an extended family, you see), opening her arms and heart wide-open to a cat with quirks, loving him - yes - just the way he is.
Cory and Tanya, I hope you’re taking notes. The same stellar volunteers who worked their loving ways on Spike are far from finished with loving you. The AwesomeAdopter family out there is legion, and your days are coming.