Looks cute, doesn’t he? Just look at that satisfied smirk. But what you see before you is the face of evil, and his rise to infernal glory has everything to do with the power of naming.
I never imagined that one act of kindness would allow the Antichrist a permanent place in my home. One night after work, Em came home with a basket (okay, a cat carrier) of kittens and their mother. Apparently someone just had thrown the babies over the gate at the animal shelter where she works, and they were so little and ill that they needed constant care.
Em did that thing that she does where she curls her lower lip and makes a sad face. It isn’t exactly cute (it’s like a super model transforming into a guppy before your very eyes), and it doesn’t exactly work on me (lies, lies, lies), but what kind of douchehammer refuses to take in a brood of sick, helpless kitties?
Do you see my dilemma? Even the receiving blanket was Breast Cancer Awareness themed. My nice guy status was in danger. I was stuck. So I graciously accepted these little guys into my home on one condition: I would be the one to name them.
The mama kitty (who we still call “Mama Kitty” anyway) I named Artemis because of her pristine white coat with woodland camouflage on her butt–pretty appropriate for a goddess of the moon and hunt, right? The sweet, long haired calico was little Hebe, the feisty calico was Hecate, and the orange tabby with an attitude was Ares. This left a sickly little runt of a black cat who perpetually looked like a pirate with his one eye crudded up due to an upper respiratory infection.
Black cat, Greek theme… I named him Hades.
It took weeks of antibiotics, holding them down and cleaning their eyes, and eventually weening them from Artemis and bottle feeding them just to get rid of the infection the kitties were carrying. Fostering is difficult because you get really attached to the animals, especially babies like these. You watch their personalities and quirks develop. You watch them take their first steps. Their crying keeps you up at night. Think of having a child and dealing with its stages over a protracted period of time.
So when the time came to hand them back over to the shelter, there was quite a discussion about keeping some of them. Originally, I just wanted to keep Artemis, but Hebe was sweet, Hecate was hilarious, and Ares was amusing in that he always looked like a pissed off lion–as if he didn’t realize he was just a few months old, and a house cat to boot.
Hades was not on my list.
“He’s the one we need to keep,” Em explained. “He’s a black cat, and no one really adopts black cats.”
It was three weeks before Halloween. I was sure some Wiccan would want him or something. I expressed this.
“Dan, we have a program at the shelter right now called ‘me and my shadow’. Basically, if you adopt a kitten of a different color, you get a black kitten free. That’s how bad it is.”
Stupid kitty racism.
It wasn’t that I didn’t try to like Hades, but he was already getting so bad that this was his own mother’s reaction to him:
Em made that weird face again, but I tried to hold my ground. I mean, this was the cat that crapped anywhere but the litter box and then kicked up the sand for good measure. This was the little demonic cat that would hide under your sheets and wait for you to get into bed, then pounce and tear out your Achilles’ tendon. This was the little demonic shit of a cat who climbed into the refrigerator and the dryer and tried to poop in both. This was the little demonic monster shit of a cat who expressed his opinions about literature by vomiting on book covers.
Then there was the time he tried to steal food from our 100 lb. Golden Retriever, Mr. Gram, who chased him out of the kitchen. Hades retaliated by ninja running up a baby gate, leaping onto his back, and riding him like a tawny, slobbering surfboard all over the house. He next decided it was a good idea to shred every scrap of paper in the house, giving our floor a second carpet all in two-ply, an early white Christmas Charmin style. Further compounding his crimes, he decided it would be a good idea to try and use our Chow-Chow’s wagging tail as a speed bag. (Good thing the bag hit him more than he hit the bag…)
He beat up his mother and sisters. He drank milk out of our cereal bowl dishes. He ate all the bread in the house. He found a bag of catnip stashed in a container, somehow opened the container, stole the weed, scaled the refrigerator, and proceeded to get stoned up there while harassing the dogs by dropping empty cereal boxes on their heads. He slashed open the dog’s food bag, tripping me with the wasted kibble all 30’s slapstick style. (I say wasted because the dogs don’t eat it if it hits the floor.)
Em made that face again. I really wanted her to stop, so I conceded. We officially adopted the devil.
He thanked me by making the laundry basket his personal throne. I can expect either black hairs or the occasion spot of cat urine whenever I change clothes.
Then, just the other day, he used his arcane kitty arts to summon a demon. I’ve attached the summoning ritual–watch him go through his little dance (na-muh, na-muh, na-muh), pause and smile in anticipation, and then the scream…