01 July 2012


A few months ago, I profiled Harriet and I've been meaning to come back and spotlight the rest of my heathens. Here, then, is a look at Muffin. He was the first of the four to come to us, in 2006. My grandmother found him in a small box next to the dumpster behind my family's consignment shop. He was a tiny little emaciated kitten, along with his brother (named Cuddles). Sadly, his brother was too unhealthy by the time he found his way to us and he didn't make it. Muffin, however, was a born fighter. My wife encouraged him to roughhouse with her, not that he needed it, leading to a mostly deserved reputation for bein' on'ry as we say here in the South.
There is a sort of pattern of white hairs in his coat, and because of this and his sometimes aggressive behavior, we took to calling him a leopard because we're certain that's what he thinks he is. I have no idea if he's ever been to the zoo to know what a leopard is, but the leopard is the mascot of the elementary school here (which I attended from Kindergarten through third grade). Maybe he passed by the school before he came to us.

I resisted even having a cat at all, and when my mother brought in the box with the kittens and she and my wife elected to adopt them, I stayed out of it hoping the interest would blow over once they were nursed to health. Alas, this meant I stayed out of the naming process which is how they came to be called Muffin and Cuddles. I'm not even sure what names I might have coined had I taken an active role in things early on. For that matter, I'm not even sure I can say I know how Muffin's name came to be.

One afternoon, I found Muffin sleeping in the computer chair, lying on his back with his front legs drawn up to his chest and crossed over one another. It was just like Count Dracula, which prompted me to coin the corruption of his name, Count Muffula. I kinda like that one, though he's yet to indicate whether he gets the reference or finds it amusing. I wish I had a photo of him sleeping like that.

Muff was always a mama's boy, favoring my wife over me. She would hold him upside down and rock him, just like an infant, and sing "Do You Know the Muffin Man?" to him until he would attack her. I've worried about him since she's been gone. I've noticed he's become increasingly affectionate toward me. I don't know if he's trying to make the best of things and find a substitute in me for what he misses, or whether maybe he's expression pity for me at those times. He's not the oldest of the four - that would be Harriet - but he's the one who's been here the longest.

Hard to believe my fierce leopard was ever such a scrawny kitten!
He's mellowed a lot in the last couple of years, rarely being as rambunctious as he once was. He can still become fixated on chasing bugs, though, and he doesn't care how badly his claws hurt my legs or my arms when he leaps off in hot pursuit.

One little thing I've discovered he and I have in common concerns feeding time. When I fill the cats' bowls, he hangs back and watches, and he generally waits until the others have begun to eat before he'll start. I have a thing where I wait for my partner (be it my wife when we were together, a girlfriend or even just a dinner date) to take her first bite. It's kind of neat to me that he also does this, given that we've never really, y'know, talked about things like eating etiquette.

What I suppose I've learned from Muffers is resilience. He was a kitten who was frankly left for dead. He rejected that, though, taking care of his brother as best he could while trying to keep himself going. He kept them together as best he could, as long as he could, and while it was heartbreaking that Cuddles didn't make it, I know that we only even met him because of the care of his brother. I think that's the basic definition of family: the ones you will fight for the most fiercest. I'm glad he's family.

Muffin won't talk about the nature of his beef with Randy the Moose.