Letters From Scratchy The Tuxedo Cat

Pt 1 of 2: The one where our cat penned the annual holiday letter

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Scratchy, 2009. Photo: Martie Sirois

was this time last year when our 14 year old Tuxedo cat, Scratchy, became sick. September 4, 2018 was the day we lost him. It happened following a surgery he’d undergone for an abscess under his tongue, a surgery he never recovered from, a surgery I kind of regret allowing. Scratchy was one of the hardest pet losses our family has endured, I suppose because he literally grew up with our 3 kids, and he fully lived his “9 lives” (plus a few extra).

I know everyone thinks their pets are the best, and I am no exception. But everyone who met Scratchy agreed — he was the most “chill,” the “most awesome, “ the most “badass” and “coolest cat” they’d ever seen. These things were said even by people who claimed to hate cats.

Scratchy was a cat who feared nothing and was strong like an ox. In fact, he singlehandedly chased off the neighbor’s two large dogs — Siberian Huskies. They cowered in his presence, and we never really knew why.

When he was much younger, Scratchy survived a bullet wound to the head by an elderly neighbor who mistook him for a racoon. (Don’t ask.) The day we picked him up from surgery, it was as if nothing had happened; the only evidence was the shaved hair and long, zigzag line of stitches and staples, spanning the back of his ear to the bottom of his neck, giving him an overall ‘Frankenstein’ look.

You never knew he was hurting. And he always looked healthy — from his shiny coat to his lean, muscular body, he was a good-looking cat who never showed his age. Except for one nick out of his right ear, and many scars beneath his fur, there was no evidence of the many fights he fought. And won, according to our vet, because, as she explained, all his scars were on his front. Meaning, he never backed away from a fight. If he did, she said, “he’d have scars on his hind quarters — but he doesn’t have any there.”

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Scratchy, age 13. Photo: Martie Sirois

When we left the country and moved to a busy street in the city, he refused to be an indoor cat. We tried, but we couldn’t contain him. He was an escape artist by nature. We always knew the odds of him getting hit by a car, and yet, cars of strangers would preemptively stop for him whenever they spotted him on the curb, specifically to let him cross the road. And then he’d take his time like the rebel he was. He just had a kind of charm and charisma that made everyone take notice.

In 2017, I had a gut feeling it might be his last Christmas, so we decided to let him write our annual holiday letter. This is that letter.

Scratchy’s Christmas letter, 2017

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{Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this holiday family letter belong to Scratchy the cat, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Sirois family themselves.}

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o, ho, ho, Crazy Cats & Daddios. The name’s Scratchy (if you don’t know me already). I’m the suavest tuxedo cat you’ve ever seen, a sophisticated 13 year old Alpha male, currently on my 14th life (cuz 9 lives are for suckas). I enjoy honey-seared salmon, napping in assorted boxes, introspective window gazing, and the occasional game of cat & mouse. No strings attached.

ISO: Lady feline, tall or short, doesn’t matter as long as you have the ability to reach the kitchen counter and have a basic understanding of knobs and locks.

Think you can you can handle 6 lbs. of street-wise swagger? Swipe right & HMU. Or, you know… don’t. That’s cool too. Especially don’t if you’re a lady feline of age who only eats prescription cat food for seniors, like Science Diet or similar… really not interested in cougars — Oh, wait…

(Holiday Letter. Holiday letter. Not Tinder profile. Holiday letter.)

[clears throat]

I was saying, those who don’t know me, really should. Those who do know me won’t be surprised to see I’ve finally taken over penning this lame holiday letter my humans send each year (you call them the “Sirois family,” I call them “jerks who couldn’t possibly fill my food bowl any slower if they tried.”) I figure, hey, it’s 2017, it’s about time you see things from the cat’s perspective.

Of course if I really had it my way, this message would be delivered via passive-aggressive sticky notes left all over your house, but my humans have instructed me to play nice. Bottom line? I finally get to type something besides my usual: llllppppppppppppppppppppp;;pppopopollll, while my human woman does “work,” and, well, I guess that’s the cat’s pajamas.

Speaking of, the woman of the house (you know her as “Martie’) is elated over finally getting her first meager payment for some of her published rubbish, but everyone around here knows I’m the real poet. Thank God she still leaves the house every day to go somewhere called “school” where I assume she plays all day, judging by how exhausted & disheveled she looks upon return. Bad energy is not good for the feng shui of my house.

As for the man of the house (Matt), he’s been doing this thing for this company — maybe you’ve heard of them — Amazon? It’s apparently called “working from home.” It’s been a little over a year now, and it’s really just not working out for me. He’s too enthusiastic about something that in no way benefits me. I mean, aside from the available warm lap that happens to meet my napping schedule, there’s not much else his presence contributes to the feng shui of my house.

therwise, 2017 started out pretty humdrum, but somewhere around mid-January, all the humans began getting all depressed over the election of some dude at the top. For the record, during times like these, I’ll be the first to admit it’s difficult keeping one’s opinions to oneself. Look, I’m a hip guy; I’m all for the legalization of catnip, but the minute they start talking about equality for dogs? That’s when my claws come out.

Those dogs already chase and chastise us, and now the humans are gonna close down the neighborhood dog park — get this — they’re gonna close down the dog park for renovations. Why do dogs even need a park in the first place?

Let me tell you about my species. We know how to conduct ourselves with class when roaming the neighborhood, but those mangey mongrels don’t, and therefore, they don’t deserve an entire park full of renovated play equipment. They should be kept on leashes, and short ones at that! Oh, well. I suppose I shouldn’t talk any more politics. The humans have told me to keep this light and avoid being “catty.”

till, in the spirit of unbridled candor, I feel compelled to share with you that in February, the youngest human, who’s also transgender or non-binary or something, Charlie, who prefers going by “they/them” attempted to exit their lane and encroach upon mine. (And by “my lane,” I mean attention-seeking, if you must know.) Not cool, cat. Not cool.

What happened was they came down with an apparent catastrophic case of pneumonia on their 11th birthday.

(Aww. Poor kid. Hey, listen hard and you might hear the delicate strings of my tiny violin — I’m playing it slowly as we speak.)

I tell you, when that kid’s one particular coughing fit tried to one-up me, when it sounded worse than my most epic hairball hack ever? Well. “Hold my beer,” I said. Let’s just say we had to have a little come-to-Jesus meeting.

“Look, kid,” I says, “here’s how it is, see? You got the market cornered on all things gender; I own all the shares of pity-parties, got it?”

I think they got the message.

Oh yeah, before I forget. Recently, the youngest human entered middle school and is doing well so far. Says it’s better than elementary school. Go figure! They’re enjoying playing this wretched apparatus, apparently a “musical instrument” called saxophone for 6th grade band, but really, I think it exists to drive me out of the house. Which has happened. On many occasions.

he young human female they call “Kate” turned 15 in March, and more recently, after her 4th summer volunteering as a T.A. for children’s theatre camps at a historic local theatre, she entered her sophomore year of high school. She just made A/B honor roll. I should know; my naptime always pairs well with redundant human activity called “homework.” Especially when this is done atop soft bedcovers and coupled with the drained-energy ambiance of etheral alt-rock by The 1975.

I’d be remiss not to mention how this same child began droning on and on, incessantly this year, about wanting to go out and do something the humans call “drive.” She always wants to do this activity. Like, all the time. On the one paw, it’s good because it gets everyone out of my house. On the other paw, there’s nobody around to shake my bowl or replenish my Cat Chow every 15 minutes.

That’s important. I must have a fresh layer of Cat Chow every 15 minutes. And guess what? That doesn’t happen when everyone is out of the house doing this “drive” thing.

Alas, I suppose the kitty litter isn’t always cleaner on the other side.

Oh, and also, this female human is also very eager to turn 16 so she can get a job. To buy me treats, I presume.

hings took a melancholy turn in April with the sudden death of my long-time dog companion, the one the humans call “Athena.” It was hard for me. We grew up together. The humans were devastated, moping about and crying for days on end. (Drama queens, I tell you, the lot of ‘em.)

I mean, okay. I’ll confess. I got all up in my feels and I did cry for a New York minute, but then… then I realized I was now king, and began my rightful reign by claiming the adult humans’ bed as my personal throne. There, I curled up and balanced my delicate ch’i on the southeast corner of the mattress, where I slept for weeks. It was a blissful two weeks. That is, until he came.

Deuce. His name… is Deuce.

He arrived later in April at approximately 3 months old. He arrived a tiny, timid, shaking bundle of Pitbull/Boxer mix, and he hasn’t left yet. “Cute,” I thought. “The humans have taken in a foster. How noble,” I thought.

But now it looks as if the clumsy dimwit is here to stay. I haven’t the slightest idea what my humans find so delightful about this creature; he just keeps growing bigger and ganglier, and despite all the clever tricks he’s managed to learn, I’ve yet to observe any improvement in his manners, housekeeping, or his a-paw-ling attempts at self-care.

Also, he’s an incredible resource sucker. He constantly drains the water bowl, stretches out and lays sideways all night in bed, thus forcing the adult humans to sleep while clinging to opposite edges of the mattress, and he hordes prime real estate with his morning “yoga” routines on the lone, warm, sunny patch of the carpet.

ummer came and went, and so did the eldest human child they call “Jack.” In addition to managing to hold down a job for a year (so far), plus a girlfriend of almost as long, he seems to have also been struck with a strange human affliction called “senioritis.” This is characterized by a decline in general motivation and performance.

(Note to self: learn to replicate “senioritis.”)

Still, he’s holding steady at a 4.36 G.P.A., and has applied at a local university’s Dept. of Biomedical Engineering. He says it’d be cool to design robotic prosthetics, but I know he really means, “it’d be cool to design new robotic toys for Scratchy the cat.”

I mean, he at least owes me that, after repeatedly kicking me out of his room so much. Golly. All’s I did was chew up a few random “computer wires,” geez. Next thing I know he’s red in the face and yelling at me for “ruining his game” (you have to imagine me saying that in a really lame voice.)

Oh yeah, I guess I should mention that this kid won a customer service award at his place of employment this month, where his picture will be on display for a year. But back to me…

November, I proposed that the annual Thanksgiving nap be extended through Christmas day. I got vetoed. Also, January’s just around the corner, and I already have my New Year’s resolution: I plan on convincing the humans to build a sushi bar in my front yard (though, it’s my understanding you humans call it a “koi pond.”)

It’s hard to believe we’ve arrived at December. It’s my favorite time of year, because the humans put up this awesome, festive, feline fir tree, right in the middle of the living room, all for ME! They call it a ‘Christmas tree,’ but I know it’s really a ‘Scratchy Tree.’ You’ve gotta see it; they do it every year, and it’s truly the only kind gesture these folks ever extend to me.

Speaking of Christmas and trees, I have work to do. A mere wall separates me from shiny, breakable antiques, and colorful dangling baubles for batting.

Today, the tree; tomorrow, the WORLD.

On that note, I suppose I’ll close out for the year. As you can see, all the humans do is continue residing in the “Land of the Lackluster.” Nothing much changes around here but the scenery, folks. Except for (dear God almighty), that presumptuous, parasitic puppy who is still here. I guess I know what to ask Santa for after all.

Oh, that reminds me: if you’re looking for any Christmas gift ideas pour moi, you shall stand in good stead if you just give me boxes. I’m totes serious. No, really; I’m serious. I don’t need juvenile chiming balls or fake mice. I don’t appreciate cat puzzles or brain teasers. Your idea of “cat toys” does not amuse me.

(You can’t tell me that Q-tips, hair ties, and that piece that rips off from the lids of milk jugs are not classic cat toys.)

However, I’d much prefer boxes. And then I want more boxes. Boxes inside of boxes. Got it? Did I mention boxes? Boxes. (Or honey-seared salmon.)

Meowy Christmas and Happy Mew Year,

Scratchy the Cat, and my humans: Matt, Martie, Jack, Kate, and Charlie

(and that dastardly dog, Deuce)

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Scratchy. Photos: Martie Sirois

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Seen in HuffPost, Scary Mommy, etc; heard @ NPR, SiriusXM, TIFO podcast & more. Gender dismantling trailblazer. Political news junkie. TikTok aficionado. Mom.

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