spike’s ascent toward sainthood

spike’s ascent toward sainthood

we got a letter from the uc davis vet school last week: “Presidio Way Veterinary Hospital has made a financial donation to the Companion Animal Memorial Fund in memory of Spike.”


this fund supports research for problems that confront small domestic animals – dogs, cats, birds, exotic pets, and others.

in the past two years we’ve cared for two cats as they died of cancer – first nooka (lymphosarcoma) for several months in 2002 and then spike for just a few weeks in 2003. they both lived long kitty lives. nooka was just with us for the last 4 years of her life and spike’s been with me since he was born in 1992.

i spent time looking through the database of cats (particularly black cats) at the san francisco spca last week – at petharbor.com – and had to close my browser window before i really became a crazy cat gal.

missing spike

while trolling the web today, i found another spike: ‘Spike’ (a movie by Evie Leder).

since he died, he and his personality have been popping up in unexpected venues. moya and i went to see spike lee (the filmmaker, not the cat) on dec 8 when spike lee (the cat) was dying and high on pain drugs. wanda (the cat) seems to be channeling him — she sits in the doorway to our bedroom, guarding it, just the way he used to block the doorway, guarding us, keeping wanda from going anywhere. we were watching some movie on tv (or dvd, i forget) last week and one of the characters talked about spike. and i swear that kinsey sticks mentioned him during oy vey in a manger.

he was a big black longhaired supersoft feisty mr personality who would follow me to the grocery store, wait in the parking lot, howl til i came back out and herd me home.

when i lived on an island, he’d ‘walk’ me to the ferry in the morning and ‘walk’ me home at night.

in san francisco he spent time in kitty jail with animal care and control because someone thought he was lost, stuffed him in a box, and he bit her when she was stuffing him in a box.

if someone was crying, he’d jump on their lap and nuzzle his head under their chin. when he was a kitten he slept across my neck.

he loved attention and would whup whap whup his tail on the floor to let you know he was done with the attention and you should stop with the attention giving or else you’d be in danger (of his claws swiping fresh gashes in your tender flesh).

he used to stay out all night and come home in the morning smelling like cigars and drugstore cologne with comb marks on his back – i think he was playing poker in some backyard.

he had a young kitten boyfriend named romeo who belonged to my neighbors across the street. (i suggested he join kitty nambla)

when i lived with my sister, we had 3 cats: spike, chester and hannah. spike and chester would fight over hannah — both trying to groom her at the same time.

he befriended an orphaned baby racoon and slept in a tree with it.

he would wander around the neighborhood and then sit on our front steps and yowl at people who walked by to get them to ring the doorbell so he could get inside. it took us a while to realize he wasn’t actually ringing the doorbell by himself.

some mornings when i get to the office i look around for him and miss him (he was living at my office for the last 6 months of his life). sometimes missing him feels rather pathetic, other times it’s palpably vulnerably sad, and sometimes i see the crows and pigeons and sparrows and hummingbirds on the deck looking gleeful that their lives are safe again (at least on one deck in hayes valley!).


from today’s new yorker


In life, death
was nothing
to you: I am

willing to wager
my soul that it
simply never occurred

to your nightmareless
mind, while sleep
was everything

(see it raised
to an infinite
power and perfection) — no death

in you then, so now
how even less. Dear stealth
of innocence

licked polished
to an evil
lustre, little

milk fang, whiskered
friend —


— Franz Wright
thank you

spike’s highlife

spike’s highlife

if i had to guess what spike’s heaven will be like, i would imagine it would be somewhat similar to these last days. a constant supply high-fat wet catfood served in giant heaps, topped with an icing of high-calorie supplement and served dolloped upon an elevated, chilled platter — just like on a cruise ship, “the food never stops.” soft fleecy blankets next to a radiator always set on “warm” to mask the fact that it has been constantly cold and rainy outside. a pain patch on alternating hind-legs delivering measured doses of narcotics, good for five days at a time. bright flitty hummingbirds the mere window-width away. fluffy giant pigeons plump and preening in the rain. warm, familiar-smelling humans with opposable thumbs waiting at the door to allow him to exit or return should he so desire — while spike watches all of it, the whole thing, from just inside the deluge.

but of course there will be one big difference in spike’s heaven: no nasty tumor.

his trip to the vet saturday for a new pain patch was grim; i had to circle the busy block repeatedly to find parking in the rain, and he looked quite ill by the time we had arrived; he also smelled quite foul and they thought he had released his anal glands. in addition, without the pain patch, he clearly was much more uncomfortable, so leanne thinks we will keep it on until he can’t eat anymore or is clearly suffering. his tumor has apparently grown, and he is drooling constantly now. it is not always bloody. he has smelled a lot worse through this, but leanne gave him a sponge bath today and then combed lavendar essence through his silky black hair; now his tail is fluffy and soft again!

he still climbs up on our laps and crawls under our chins and purrs while we stroke him – only now we have to have a little drool bib on while he does this.

he’s been the only cat – the only being! – i’ve known who will leap up on your lap when you are upset and come purring to comfort.

spike just leapt onto my lap, and i am negotiating typing around him, his chin perched on my left forarm.

calming the beast

calming the beast

it’s pretty clear to us now that those first pretty bad days were pretty bad mostly because of the biopsy. understandably, since essentially a piece of spike’s tongue was cut out and taken off to biopsy.

that doesn’t mean, however, that all is well now. though spike has seemed better in the last few days, eating a ton, attacking us like he loves us, sleeping warmly and soundly, leanne has spoken to the vet about all the (lack of) possibilities and dr. bloom has confirmed that the tumor is simply continuing to grow. spike’s even bleeding again more since his visit to the vet on saturday; i guess they cleaned his mouth out (he obviously swears too much).

at the vet, they removed his pain patch, and leanne has not put a new one on him yet. i think she’s just sort of waiting to see when he declines. in the meantime, he seems pretty happy (though obviously uncomfortable and bleeding…). the tumor’s only going one way…

at least, as of yesterday at last, the sun has been out after days of grey rain – so hopefully he has been able to get out onto the roof to enjoy the sun.