Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Plea for a Cat Named Spot

Like most stories, this one starts with a song.

Actually two songs.

The Weakerthans, a fantastic Canadian band from Winnipeg (which as you know is the capital of Manitoba), has spent the last few years creating a library of smart, inventive power pop songs.

My first exposure to the Weakerthans was "Plea From a Cat Named Virtue" (download it for free here), an amazing song about a depressed cat-owner (told from the perspective of the cat).

As a new cat owner (and someone who frankly always preferred dogs), I got a lot of insight into my cat's inner life from this song. Before long, I'd completely bonded with my cat (and not just because he has thousands of MySpace friends -- now including Neko Case -- and gets emails from my favorite Icelandic bands). Of course, it helps that Sitka is a tuxedo cat who has a lot of doglike traits (he likes baths, riding in cars, playing fetch, etc.) And, like Virtue the Cat, Sitka has a lot of insight into the human condition:
All you ever want to do is drink and watch TV,
And frankly that thing doesn't really interest me.
I swear I'm going to bite you hard and taste your tinny blood
If you don't stop the self-defeating lies you've been repeating
Since the day you brought me home.
I know you're strong.

A few months ago, I started seeing signs in my neighborhood. Small signs on telephone polls and larger signs -- all laminated so they'd still show up in the rain and all featuring a photo of a cat who looked almost exactly like Sitka. The signs were missing-cat posters for a cat named Spot. And he was exactly Sitka's age.

You could almost hear the agony and fear of Spot's owners in the signs. So I went out looking for him. Around some of the construction sites in the neighborhood. In bushes. Up and down some of the streets. And when I came home, I told Sitka how upset I'd be if he ever ran away.

Judging from the posters, Spot's different from Sitka -- he's an outdoor cat (who apparently was comfortable wandering into apartments around the neighborhood). But this time he got out without his collar... and his owners are worried.

Sitka would want me to remind all pet owners to have their pets microchipped -- and to make sure they always wear their collars (even if they're indoor pets). Sitka even said he'd gladly give up his favorite toy mouse if it would help Spot make it home safe and sound.

Which brings me back to the Weakerthans, whose latest album Reunion Tour contains a sequel song, again from the point of view of Virtue the Cat. But between "Plea from a Cat Named Virtue" and the new album, I've had a cat for 6 years. Even though my cat is doglike, I've grown to appreciate the cattish parts of his personality as well. So now I can't think of anything sadder than "Virtue the Cat Explains Her Departure" (link for Gmail subscribers):

And as for you, Spot: your humans miss you so much and are so worried and sad. It's time to make your way home... and if you're lost, know that there are people searching for you. So let someone in the neighborhood find you... and bring you home.


Anonymous said...

When did all the youtube videos get titles in your posts?

Alex said...

It's new as of today.