A Eulogy for Pussy Knickers Carter

Pussy Knickers wasn’t a particularly likeable cat, which makes it all the more peculiar we’ve gathered here today. I’ve got reason to believe that some of you showed up only because the event is catered by Gruman’s Deli. But unfortunately, food won’t be served until after the service, so you’ll have to be patient. For those not in attendance, I’d like to thank you for tuning into the YouTube stream.

Pussy Knickers Carter was born on St. Patrick’s Day in 2002, the runt of an unspectacular litter. In fact, when we arrived at a friend’s house to adopt a cat in April of that year, there were only two kittens remaining. Naturally, we wanted the one that wasn’t Pussy Knickers, but foolishly conceded in a bidding war against another family.

His name, as I’m sure you’re all wondering, is the by-product of an early collaboration between me and my sister Kaila. She decided to name him Pussy Knickers, and for no apparent reason at all. You see, Kaila’s got a tendency to dream up fanciful names – her current cat is named Dim Sum and she says the next will be called Chocolate Chunk. This isn’t much of a surprise, considering she plans to name her first-born child Bubbles –whether it’s a boy or a girl.

My contribution to the name was much less inspired. Carter just so happened to be my favorite name, likely because of the former Toronto Raptor, Vince Carter, or maybe even Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys. But I promise my kids will have normal names, Dad, so you can relax over there.

Pussy Knickers led a fairly normal kitty life. He was a lithe and delicate tabby, and would often curl up beside you after a good clean yawn, purring away the afternoon as you scratched that little nook at the back of his neck. These are the times we remember most fondly.

He grew, however, into a skittish, aggressive, and overweight cat. His heft could be attributed to a diet of cat treats, since he mostly subsisted on Whiskas Temptations. Remember those commercials with the cat owners shaking the colorful bag of treats, and, triggered by some Pavlovian response, the cat would perform all sorts of acrobatic feats to get them? Turns out those commercials are spot on. Unfortunately, those addictive snacks might also be the reason that Pussy Knickers died of diabetes, which I didn’t think was possible for a cat.

Beyond his delicious diet, Pussy Knickers lived an enviable life, filled with napping and generally misanthropic behavior. It’s no great revelation that he hated people and other cats. In fact, his ridiculous name belied his often-vicious temperament. People would hear ‘Pussy Knickers’ and mistakenly try to pet him, only to be scratched or bitten or demonically hissed at. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a time in the last ten years when I petted him successfully, but we have a family theory about what effected his frightening change in personality. Here’s the story.

OK…

In the basement of the house in Britannia, we had one of those little hockey nets, where, as kids, we would scuttle along the carpet knocking a ball into the net. But one day, when Pussy Knickers was just a young cat, he got his paw snagged in the netting. After repeated efforts with a pair of scissors to set him free, Pussy Knickers became so entangled that we had no choice but to alert the fire department. Of course, Alicia, our diligent, organized, A-type, older sister had to make the call. The firefighters arrived with great big gloves on, as if they were rescuing a bobcat or something. Eventually, they set him free. In the aftermath, my mother decided to take a gift to the fire hall, so she bought a box of Bernard Callebaut chocolates, wrote a note, and dropped it all off at Station 11. Within a few hours, she got a call from the Fire Chief, who thanked her for the gift. “We do a scrapbook of our rescues,” he said. “What’s the name of your cat?” So, mom decided, on a lark, to tell this gruff man the real name of our cat. “It’s Pussy Knickers,” she replied. The end of the line went silent.

Pussy Knickers, it turned out, was never the same after that incident. As for the fire chief, he’s probably still working on that scrapbook somewhere.

Then came the divorce, which was announced after our Chanukkah celebration in 2008. It definitely contributed to Pussy Knickers’ mistrust of human beings and declining sense of self-esteem. (Just kidding, that was me.) He ended up going to live with mom and we had him declawed since he seemed to take great pleasure in scratching the absolute shit out of her furniture. My mom wasn’t going to allow that in her new house, and for good reason. Those of you who’ve visited know that it’s an interior designer’s dream.

I don’t think Pussy Knickers resented my father, Howard, for not taking him after the divorce, so much as he felt betrayed. And the fact that my father has gone on to be a great father to Ruben and Frieda, his girlfriend Janet’s cats, probably hasn’t helped. There was that time when Kaila and I, against his wishes, got him a cat for Christmas. He gave that cat away to some family friends, and it died within a week. So maybe Pussy Knickers was better off.

And finally…

I’d like to issue some final words to Pussy Knickers. I remember when I was just a little boy, back in your most affectionate days. I would be lying in bed trying to sleep, and you would crawl up beside me, curl into a warm cinnamon bun shape, and fall asleep. Too scared to wake you, I would stare at the ceiling for hours, unable to shift into a comfortable position for sleep. Eventually, I’d roll over and you’d skitter off the bed and into the dark hallway. I’d always be sad when you ran away. And what I wouldn’t give to be uncomfortably awake with you, right now. Thank you.

 

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