Pet Spotlight: James K. Decker and Chiba

watercat2-291x300My wife and I now own four cats, all male. While I don’t believe cats think like humans, they do all have individual ‘personalities’ (felinealiitieties?) in that one is the bravest, one is the most affectionate, one is the most skittish, one is the smartest, one is the…let’s say least smart, etc. They all have their individual habits and quirks that would allow me to notice if one were suddenly replaced with an alien clone.

The latest to join the bunch is named Chiba, and he’s great. He’s on the small side and very cute, with a personality that is completely at odds with his appearance. He’s what I might term a ‘lovable asshole’. He likes to play, but except for occasionally he doesn’t like to be touched by humans (other cats are okay), squirming away and then grooming himself obsessively for several minutes after being petted with an offending hand. He displays his junk constantly, something cats (at least the ones I’ve had) very rarely do. I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve witnessed it prior to him, now I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve walked into a room and been confronted with Chiba’s business. Every time, he looks up at me, tongue still protruding from his mouth, with an expression that seems to say “What?”. He has resisted any sort of training much more so than any other cat we’ve had, to the point where his bad habits seem to have spread to the others. He sniffs and even licks other cats butts uninvited. He steals food from human and cat alike. He gets on the counter, gets in the trash, loves the water, and every time I get ice from the dispenser he comes running, demanding a chip to bat around. He is cocksure, unapologetic, and awesome.

What a tasty morsel.

Perhaps his most defining trait is his tendency to eat almost anything he finds. Sometimes these things are actually food, sometimes not. He doesn’t do it obsessively, it’s just that if he sees something that *might* be food he eats first and asks questions later. I’ve seen him eat cat hair (both his own, and left behind by other cats), mulch, grass, dried bits of leaf, lint, and bits of dirt. On the organic side, he’ll eat any food or treat put down, anything a human eats that looks like it might be interesting, and in addition I’ve seen him eat beetles, frogs, flies, moths, mosquitoes, crane flies, worms, a dog biscuit, mice, moles, voles, and his latest favorite, big, fat cutworms. The cutworm is what finally threw me. I wasn’t sure he should eat it, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to give it up. When he bit down and popped it, he was *sure* he didn’t want to give it up, ran out of reach, wolfed the whole thing down, then licked the floor all over in case he missed any.

If any of this sounds gross, I assure you it is – but eating bugs is part of what makes him Chiba. He’s no gentleman and doesn’t wish to be one. While I still won’t allow him on the counter (I’m going to win that one, damn it) I generally prefer to allow him to be what he is – hunter, killer, and aficionado of fine foods wherever he may find them.

James K. Decker was born in New Hampshire in 1970, and has lived in the New England area since that time. He developed a love of reading and writing early on, participating in young author competitions as early as grade school, but the later discovery of works by Frank Herbert and Issac Asimov turned that love to an obsession.

He wrote continuously through high school, college and beyond, eventually breaking into the field under the name James Knapp, with the publication of the Revivors trilogy (State of Decay, The Silent Army, and Element Zero). State of Decay was a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and won the 2010 Compton Crook Award.