I would be sitting in my chair at the house at Northside and Normandy and his habit was to approach the chair, position himself between my feet and look up longingly at me. Then he would climb my leg into my lap. A dozen or more times a night he would do this. That was when I started trying seriously to talk to him, as he sat in my lap on these evenings. I would talk to him about my dogs Skip and Pete, or what
I had done that day, or an Atlanta Braves game I was watching on TV, and he would stare at me, and blink his eyes, and make the incomprehensible movements of his tail and whiskers. This might suggest how radically far I had come, to be actually trying to converse with a kitten.
Then one night after playing outdoors, he did not come home. He was gone for several hours. I had read somewhere of the high mortality rates of kittens and young cats: killed by dogs, run over, lost far from home, wounded by sadistic Homo sapiens. We had purposefully decided to let him, as with his mother, Rivers Applewhite, go outdoors on his own, and now I was disturbed by that decision. He had almost died at birth, and then most certainly would have done so two weeks later had it not been for Clinic Cat, and this now was the third of a succession of traumas we would have with him over time. I walked from house to house in the neighborhood. I got in the car and roamed the vicinity looking for him. I remembered with lucid anathema how Skip had disappeared in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1944, and Pete in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1982, and I wanted none of that now. When I was getting down to writing about this, the Cat Woman reminded me of the episode in searing particulars: "You wouldn't speak to me. You told me it was my fault because I'd gotten you involved with a damned cat and you couldn't deal with him. You said you didn't begin to understand cats and were sick and tired of them. You closed yourself in your room. Just like anytime anything happened to one of our cats later on, you were nuts. And you, the cat hater! We'd given up on Spit. Late that night, we were crying and discussing all the details of his short little life."
And then, right in that instant, we heard a faint noise outside the front window. It sounded like meeow. I went to the window. And there was Spit McGee.
Excerpted from My Cat Spit McGee by Willie Morris. Copyright © 2000 by Willie Morris. Excerpted by permission of Vintage, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.