Pet Spotlight:Jason Miller’s Robin Clayspo


Name: Robin ClaIMG_0628yspo (though, like all cats, he really has somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty names, titles, and honorifics.)

Breed: haha nope. Closest approximation is American short hair by way of Bedlam.

Age: 8 years old.

This is the story of a cat called Robin Clayspo.

Robin is one of the pets who come along at just the right moment, just the right time in your life, and somehow manage to fill a gap you might not even know you had. I discovered him through one of those pet-finder Websites—you know the ones—a Nashville shelter cat. An older family cat, much adored and keenly missed, had died some months earlier, and I’d finally gotten to the point where I felt it was time to give somebody else a home. I’m a big believer in that. I’m not a hugely religious sort by any means, but among the “lesser than these” in our world (and, brothers and sisters, there are many) surely we can count shelter animals, cast off, unwanted, unloved, except from a distance and by the women and men who look after them for whatever time they’re with us.

Robin came home with me the same day. His shelter name was “Calypso,” I think on account of his blue and green eyes, but whoever had written the word on his collar had accidentally transposed two of the letters. For a few days, I couldn’t think of proper name for him, and even after I did he remained and remains “Robin Clayspo.”

Back then, Robin was…well, he was a damn handful. Like a rocket ship in a cat costume. Like a rock star drunk on fame and beauty. He was haughty, violent, possessive, and rude. He peed in the sinks and didn’t mind you knew it. He made eye contact like a angry employer firing you for cause. People, visitors to my house—especially women—spoke of him like he was not a small mammalian quadruped but rather a bad ex-boyfriend. For real now, you ain’t never heard nothing like it. You know how folks talk about pets: “Fluffy is a sweet kitty.” “Spot is aloof but nice.” “Pearl is dear.”

But Robin?

“He’s a goddamn jerk.” [pause to bitterly drag on cigarette.] “What an asshole.”

And on and one like that through what was an exciting, occasionally bloody, but never dull kittenhood.IMG_0490

And then, one terrible night, when I was at my lowest and most desperate, it was this cat, this Robin, who appeared suddenly, brushed his soft white fur against my leg and prevented me from doing something stupid and irreversible. From then on, I belonged to him as much as he to me. That’s just the way it happens sometimes, I guess.

Years have gone by since, and I am happy now. Robin, as toms often do, has mellowed and become sweeter with age. People remark on it, like learning that a particularly incorrigible ex-con has been fully reformed, maybe even come down with the Faith. Gone are the days of the bad ex-boyfriend. In the mornings, he curls himself up in my lap (always after three spins, of course) and we have our coffee together. Sleepy, he kneads my bare forearm with his paws and claws. At night, he often sleeps on my feet. He is, without exaggeration, my great friend, my prince, my guardian angel. He was made me a better, kinder, more patient, and more loving person. He—and his three adoptive brothers—are an opportunity for grace, a chance to be merciful and more fully human in this sometimes rotten old world of ours. And, I ask you, what could be better than that?

Jason Miller
Jason Miller is the author of the Slim in Little Egypt series of crime novels set in what were once the coalfields of southern Illinois. The Chicago Tribune named him the funniest person on Twitter in 2014. Jason lives in Nashville with four tom cats and a college professor. His latest, RED DOG, is in stores now and well worth reading.