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Gremster, king of cats.

2003-11-24 - 10:27 a.m.

My mother has an immense, twenty-pound grey tabby. Not fat, no no. Just literally big-boned. I have small hands and the widest span between my thumb and baby finger is about the width of his head. His frame is such that the top of his back is even with the height of her coffee table and when he walks around it flinging his tail madly about we all grab for our glasses, lest we be suddenly awash in iced tea.

He can’t do the Sphinx pose on any stool in our house, he’s too long. He can barely do it on most full-sized chairs with backs to brace against. I swear you can feel the floor shake, just a little, when he thumps his burly way across it towards my grandmother, his most reliable source of treats. We have pictures of him with a friend’s 6-month old baby and he easily dwarfs her. He’s smart and got a personality too; if you say his name with the right intonation he mrows back at you in answer. We suspect, based entirely on looks, that one of his great, great, great, great grandpappies must have been a bobcat or a lynx.

I have friends that covet that cat. They like big cats and Gremster, he is the biggest they have seen. My mom was considering moving into the city and offers to take her cat started rolling in from people blessed with more outdoor space than she would have. “He can’t go downtown,” they’d say, “He needs room to roam. I’ll take him if you want, there’s a giant park just outside my door.”

She decided not to move and they did not get their chance. Gremster needs room to roam, it is true, and with 23 acres in the country, my mom has the edge. Plus it’s her cat.

Birds and mice are gone in a snap. He’s brought down dogs, snakes, and me.

Yes. Me.

I was stashing a gift under a dresser one Christmas and when I stood up I hove into the line of vision between Gremster and an interloping cat he’d been staring at through the window. I didn’t even know what hit me until I looked up from the ground. As I’d stood up all I’d felt was something baffing my head back and forth and it knocked me off balance. It turned out to be Gremster, reared up on his hind legs and doing a Stooges impression. I was lucky though; the first thing I felt for damage was my face and he’d apparently sheathed his claws. Then I tasted the metallic tang. The first swipe hadn’t been entirely benign and he’d hooked a claw into my mouth, ripping a line through my lower gums and tearing a tag of skin off my bottom lip. It bled for hours.

Gums heal fast though and a week later I was puzzling over why just one part of the scratch wasn’t healing. I poked and prodded and squinted suspiciously… then pulled out a piece of claw from my gums. Healed up right nicely after that.

I didn’t take umbrage by the way; he’s a cat and that’s the sort of things cats do and he was startled, not malicious.

I have always kind of wished we had let him father a litter or two with the abundant local barn cats, before we had him fixed; to let him pass on his giant genes. I know that the responsible thing to do is to spay or neuter your pet, but I harbour this image of my mom’s area being known for its population of mysteriously large cats.

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