You’ll often hear it said at Tabby’s Place that a cat was returned “for no fault of his own.”
Humans mystify. Grace withholds judgment. So we simply focus on the innocence of the innocent: the cat.
But, there are exceptions. Todd was returned to us this summer…for every fault of his own.
You’ll remember Todd, he of the airplane ears and whiplash warm-up. When he first came to us, he was what professionals call “one bad dude.” His bad habit, his modus operandi, and the thorn in his side was terror/hatred of a certain species.
But the host of heaven seemed to have plucked that thorn. In one miracle autumn, Todd the Odd became Todd the Tender. Todd went from terrified terrorist to the pompatus of love, from Jack the Ripper to Ed Sheeran, from “death to humans” to “HUMANS ARE MY JAM!!!!”
So it was no surprise when the long-haired, luscious-looking, lovestruck teen was adopted. His new family was amazing; his new life was a song; our work here was done.
Here’s the thing about thorns in the side: sometimes they seem to disappear, only to poke on through to the other side — different, unexpected, but still…thorny.
We’re never exactly finished, fixed or perfect this side of eternity. Martin Luther referred to this as simul justus et peccator — simultaneously righteous and a sinner. I doubt he was thinking about cats, but the idea applies: through the love of God and Tabby’s Place and long-suffering adopters, Todd was already, permanently declared righteous, accepted, adored.
But he still had some rough stuff to slough off.
And by “rough,” I mean “murderous.”
No, not Todd’s old anti-human hatred. A new odium had appeared, and this time…it was toward cats.
Make that one cat.
One very unsuspecting, very terrified, very innocent cat.
Well, we think Todd’s housemate was innocent. Then again, neither you nor I knows exactly what went on between Todd and the other cat (hereafter known as Todd’s Victim, or TV). Perhaps Todd’s vicious rages were a perfectly sane response to a perfectly insane situation.
Perhaps, for instance, TV had insisted on listening to Taylor Swift songs on a 24-hour loop, or watching back-to-back-to-back episodes of Ice Road Truckers. Perhaps Todd even gave her a warning, saying something like, OK, this is not acceptable. But you’ll have a few chances to make things right. Here’s how things will work:
- First offense: Verbal warning.
- Second offense: As silver, copper, iron, lead and tin are gathered into a furnace to be melted with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath and melt you.
- Third offense: Written warning.
- Fourth offense: DEATH BY THE TODD SQUAD.
Clearly TV reached #4.
Todd’s adopters tried everything — and not just the ordinary everything like behaviorists (though they tried that) and Feliway (though they tried that, too). We’re talking everything from dressing up as rutabagas to having Jackson Galaxy and Samuel L. Jackson dance the tarantella on their roof.*
Everything but love…
…the hard, gritty, true, blue love that does what’s best for the beloved.
With tears and apologies — though they had surely done nothing wrong — those brave, heartbroken adopters returned Todd to Tabby’s Place. They adored him, but they couldn’t let him literally kill their other cat. As Jonathan once wisely told me, you have to be loyal to the ones you have first.
Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
But, once a Tabby’s Place cat, always a Tabby’s Place cat. Todd was back — presumably a new, weird, warring Todd.
We prepared for the Siege of StalinTodd.
But a funny thing happened on the way to war.
Todd decided that he loves other cats.
Loves them like macaroni loves cheese.
Loves them like Ice loves Coco.
Loves them like I love Mumford and Sons.**
We can’t explain it. We dare not try. All we know is that Todd was a lover, then he was a warrior, and now he fights only for love.
…well, we’re a whole village of idiots who know better than to know what to expect. Ever.
All we know is this: today, we’re very glad a certain creamsicle-colored cat is behaving Toddly.
*Yes, of course I completely made that up. But it’s a good idea anyway.
**Yes, of course that’s an exaggeration.
Photo credits from de top: Mark L, Jess B x3, AT.