Chris E. Hayner

Writer. Jerk. Neat dude.

I’m not a cat person, I’m a Spooky person.

It’s been a very weird week. As many — or most — of you know, I had to make the decision to put my sidekick cat Spooky Mulder to sleep on January 30. It was something I secretly feared was coming but had trouble voicing because I didn’t want to face the reality.

Her health had been declining and the various fixes just didn’t seem to be fixing things. This isn’t about her death though, but rather her life.

When I moved to Wisconsin in 2009, I was already in the midst of my second bout with depression. I had been laid off from my job and had no real course to follow in my life, leading me to packing my things in the car and moving cross-country. When I got there I found a new job and an apartment after a stay with two very good friends who put up with my sad sack attitude. But still, even with things getting back on track, I was miserable.

I didn’t go out, I didn’t talk to people I didn’t have to and I essentially barricaded myself in my apartment and assumed I’d made a horrible decision in moving to a place where I didn’t know many people. Then someone — and I don’t remember who — suggested I think of getting a pet.

I immediately wanted a puppy. I was going to name him Mick and he was going to be my new partner-in-crime. That was, of course, until I learned that dogs weren’t allowed in my apartment complex. Cats were, though.

I’ve never been a cat person, but I knew I needed something in my life because I was feeling worse and like more of a mess by the day. So I went to the animal shelter and saw a long line of cats, all of which were assholes. They hissed at me, tried to scratch me or just ignored me and say in the corner.

Before I left, I decided to take one last look at the kennel area and found one cage I thought was empty before. The nametag on the unit said “Ritz” and in the back corner of the dark room was a ball of black fur. I asked to see that cat and the worker warned me that she wasn’t very human-friendly and was pretty sick.

It turns out this cat, Ritz, had been found in an abandoned home. When the owner was foreclosed on, he just left his animals there and went away. She was living among a bunch of dogs and hadn’t been cared for in some time.

I didn’t care, I still wanted to meet her.

So I went into the room and sat in the chair. They brought in the black cat with a white streak down her face and chest and set her down. I’d like to say she came up to me instantly, but she stood back and stared at me for a minute or two.

Then she walked over to me, sniffed my leg, rubbed her face against it and proceeded to lay down on my foot and take a nap. That’s when I knew she was mine.

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Ritz quickly became Spooky Mulder. She came home with me, got put on medicine to fix her ailments and made herself at home in my apartment. Having her around is the biggest reason I came to love Wisconsin. Having her in the house really perked me up and made me interested in going out and meeting people, making it home rather than just a pit stop.

One of my favorite memories of her happened when my friend Kevin came to Wisconsin from California for WrestleMania weekend. I had a bunch of people over — most of whom couldn’t care less about wrestling but were in it for the good time — and we partied. Spooky plopped herself down in the middle of the living room almost immediately and became Kevin’s pillow for the evening. She didn’t mind a bit. That’s the kind of cat Spooky was — not really much of a cat at all. She just liked the contact.

She also liked to keep me awake all night, running laps up and down the hallway while I was trying to sleep.

When the time came to leave Wisconsin, Spooky and I hit the road. We traveled cross-country together, with her spending most of the time laying on the center console, acting as an arm rest. She got to see all kinds of things and seemed to really enjoy the ride.

Through her time in California, she definitely slowed down as she got older. She still always wanted to play though, even if it just meant wrestling my hand or trying to block whatever I was watching.

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Over the last year she also found two people to spoil her rotten in my mom and Grandma. After deciding that boarding was not for her anymore, I started taking her to my mom’s house when I had to go out of town. It was like a vacation for Spooky whenever she got to up there as they waited on her hand and foot. They loved it just as much as she did and that makes me incredibly happy.

Those times are over now, though. I sat with her Saturday as she went to sleep for the last time on her favorite Ninja Turtles blanket — the softest of the two she had.

I’m devastated she’s gone. It hit me hard that afternoon and even worse on my drive back to LA the next day. However, then I was off on a flight to London and was too busy and tired to dwell on it much.

Last night was my first one since she’s been gone, though. It wasn’t easy. it’s strange not having her waking me up for food or wanting to be picked up onto the best to sleep for a while. Working from home today was bizarre because she wasn’t at my side on the couch while we watched TV.

That stuff just won’t happen anymore.

It’s strange. My mom asked me if I’d be looking to get another pet anytime soon and I just can’t even fathom it at this point — which she agreed with. Getting another cat seems strange because Spooky wasn’t a cat. I mean, she was a cat. DOn’t get me wrong. But she wasn’t a cat, you know? She was more than that. She was my little buddy, my confidante for the last six years and seriously the best roommate a guy could ask for.

So no, no new cat for me anytime soon. Besides, whoever that cat would be wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to Spooky Mulder. She was too damn cool for school.

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2 Comments

  1. Spooky will always be in our heart. She was one of a kind. Love you

  2. I remember how it started. I remember you wanted a puppy, but when you couldn’t and got her, you were very excited to train her to be a puppy. 🙂 I thought it was the best thing in the world and saw how big your heart was!
    And that last picture in this post is everything <3

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