Snarleyyowl the Cat Fiend

Snarleyyowl the Cat Fiend

"No, you cannot use the facilities."

One cold Colorado morning, a ginger stray turned up on the doorstep.  His name, it seemed, was Crap Cat, because that’s what he answered to, and that was certainly how he behaved.

A couple of weeks of advertising around the neighborhood returned him to his rightful owner, but it was no surprise a month or so later when he returned… walking in as if he owned the place (which, of course, he thought he did), leaping into the chair when I sat down, and proudly purring his return.  And it was only when my wife got up a little later, and asked me where I’d got this one from, that I realised it wasn’t Crap Cat at all.  It was Snarleyyowl the Cat Fiend, a beast who may have taken his name from the Captain Marryat classic (The Dog Fiend, Snarleyyow), but whose behaviour… demeanour… manners… attitude… made his namesake look like a poodle.  (Which, quite coincidentally, was what our other cat was named.)

Snarleyyowl never left.  Nor did he modify his behaviour.  For sixteen years, he snarled, he yowled and he fiended.  He did fall quiet once, about halfway through a semi-cross country drive from Colorado to our new home in Seattle, but it was a passing fancy.  He started again a few minutes later.

One day he climbed up the chimney and spent a few happy hours pretending to be a black cat.

Another time, he discovered me in the bathtub, and proceeded to sit on my slightly-submerged chest.

He beat up a neighbor’s dog, he adored pizza-flavored potato chips, and he would walk through fire if he thought he could annoy who- or whatever was waiting on the other side.

But perhaps his greatest contribution to the world was… well, let’s allow Ralph Whitlock, the Manchester Guardian‘s animal and country-life correspondent, to tell that story.

Neither did the saga end there.  About two years later, browsing through a wonderful book called Why Cats Paint, I discovered that the little Snurt’s fame had spread even further, and there was a paragraph devoted to his antics in there.  “Why,” friends would ask as they nursed their latest yowl-related wounds, “is Snarley such a fiend?”

Why do you think?

from Why Cats Paint by Heather Busch and Burton Silver

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