Hi. I just brought my cat in to the hospital. The Husk. They’re keeping him for observation. They’re afraid it might be his heart. I hope they’re wrong, somehow. We wouldn’t even have a chance if I didn’t have a wonderful girlfriend who agreed to help with the costs. Thanks Christine. Yeah, I know he’s almost eleven and cats don’t live forever, but I really love that guy, and I want him to…

Anyway, I thought the least I could do was cut and paste a little thing I wrote about him on the blog last fall. I think you all would love him too!

The Greyness of the Cat (less offensive than “Husky-Dick”, no?)

When I first got out on my own, almost exactly ten years ago, I thought I might have to go without a pet for a while (for the first time in my life). Income was sporadic at best, and I didn’t think it would be fair to bring a little one into that kind of situation. I resolved to live off the affection-capital of laundry-trips home and the occasional kindness of canine passers-by. But it wasn’t enough. The squirrels at Mount Royal provided some relief, but that was never more than a band-aid solution. The nature channel got me through a few tough nights… But really, as far as I’m concerned, a man without a mammalian familiar is nothing, and the house of such a man is not a home.

I think I was the happiest person in the apartment, when my sister decided to give her boyfriend a kitten for his birthday, in November 1993 (at the time, I was the third-wheel in their domestic arrangement). As I recall, she paid a fair amount of money for the Husk (which seems extremely funny, in retrospect), and he looked it. A glistening gray and white Persian-without-the-pushed-in-Persian face cat, the Husk made us all love him, with his giant whiskers, affectionate tendency to cling to people’s backs whenever they stopped moving, and all-around good-guy attitude. Yes, he liked to climb the Christmas tree, but that’s a forgivable fault in a young puss. And I finally felt like I was living in a real place of my own, instead of in a Ramada Inn without the vibrating bed (I didn’t have a bed at all back then–I had an inflatable pool-raft).

But Dave (my sister’s boyfriend, not me) liked to smoke pot, and he had a lot of friends who liked to smoke pot, while listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, on repeat, endlessly… I don’t think the Husk wanted any part of this scene, but he often didn’t have a choice. Many was the time I came home from wherever I was going back then, only to find our beloved kitten squirming in the arms of an ardent (but very slow-moving) pursuer. They were just having fun. No one wanted to hurt the Husk. But eventually they did. Of course. I was washing dishes one night, when I heard a squeal that drowned out even the Floyd and the Nintendo. When I got to the living room, I found Dave leaning over the half-grown cat, inspecting a gnarled paw, saying: “Man, I think he hurt himself…” The paw was broken. The poor little guy had to wear a little cat-cast for weeks. And when it came off, he wasn’t quite his old self. He had developed a habit of pissing. To express his cat-anger. I don’t know how he did it, but he usually managed to pinpoint the things that meant the most to Dave. It was awesome to behold.

One bright, cold winter’s day, I came home and felt that something was missing. I turned to Dave, who was the only other person there, and asked: “Where’s the Husk?” He replied: “He’s being punished.” I looked everywhere. I did not find the Husk. I seriously considered attacking Dave. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to physical assault. My sister got there just in time to get the bastard to admit he had sequestered the cat on the back balcony for hours. Just because a jogging suit got pissed on. Anyway, eventually, my sister left the guy, and when the three of us went our separate ways, I was told that, unless I adopted the cat, he would be executed. Everyone had grown tired of the Husk. His pissing had begun to spread beyond military targets. I took him, of course. He did piss on a box of my favourite old movies, but most of them still played, and he still loved to perch on my back, when I was reading.

I moved in with my friend Ingrid. She had a kitten of her own. A female. Named Simpson. The Husk had never been fixed. Income remained sporadic. If anything, the problem was worse than before, because my chronic tonsillitis had become one continuous fever, and I didn’t have much energy. Somehow, we all scraped by. And we adopted a stray kitten, named Arizona. Also a female. When my sister moved onto our couch, the Husk remembered her. And he never missed a piece of her clothing, when she left one on the floor, which was, basically, every day.

The female kittens approached maturity. The Husk took notice. And appropriate action. I got a job at the National Film Board for a little while, and used some of the money to put an end to his sexual desires. Or so I thought. The Husk began to let the girls alone. But he took a real liking to my Care Bear. And my friend Cara’s leg. Well, he had always liked her leg, but the bear thing was new. And then both Simpson and Arizona gave birth to Husk’s progeny.

We found homes for them all. (My youngest, and most perfect–Dashiell–was among these, but I like to think that, since I was more of a father to him than his biological parent, he takes after me). But the Husk continued to fuck stuffed animals and piss in places he shouldn’t, although, once my sister left, it was usually only when my litter-box maintenance fell below his standards.

There were other misadventures. Ingrid’s little friend Gary left the front door wide open one day, and the Husk wandered off. In mid-January. For almost two weeks. It gets very cold in Montreal, at that time of year. I looked for him everywhere. Because I love that little bastard, can’t you tell? Finally, Gary redeemed himself, by finding the AWOL beast, roosting, Wakefield-like, in the laneway behind the house… We all whooped joyously and gave him a warm bath.

Since then, the Husk hasn’t bothered to groom himself at all. If I don’t trim his long fur, it gets dread-locked in a hurry. He’s still a leg-man. And he still pisses on the floor occasionally. And my house would still suck without him.

Thanks for listening friends
Have a good day



  1. Do you know the works of Tom Lehrer? My mind conjured up his intro to “He’s My Man”, with “…because she is his, and he is hers, and like that.” Cats are very much like that.

    Here’s hoping for good report. For what it’s worth, veterinary medicine makes as nifty strides as human medicine these days, and stuff that used to be unfixable or unaffordable now isn’t. I found this out when Montano needed work on his teeth and stuff.

  2. Dave (& Husk!),

    I’m no good with comforty words, but I do hope this all works out in the best way it can. Cats can be amazing beings, and I enjoyed your Husk bio the first time I read it and again now. It’s good to have good characters in your life, and good friends. It sounds like he’s been both, and I hope you’ll be able to keep going for a long time.


  3. Hi Dave:

    Voodoo & Dutch – official feline members of the Legion of Treadmill Pets send their best to The Husk. And Dutch mentions that 10 years ago a vet heart specialist said he had at most 3 years to live because of a heart condition. Dutch would have none of that and is comfortably sprawled out across the desk as I type this.


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