Spit McGee

Willie Morris

Spit McGee

Cats! In New York I had girlfriends who doted on their cats. At least one flourishing romance was terminated because I could not get along with the young woman's cats. Their names were King Tut, the Count of Monte Cristo, and Rasputin, and I ended that connection because they were always glowering at me like the cats on the freight train from Wichita. I could not even abide the Algonquin cat, princeling of the hotel by that name, and when people made a great ceremonial fuss over him in the lounge or restaurant, I could not begin to comprehend it.”

So penned Willie Morris, creator of the book selection for this month's Newswire. Author of My Dog Skip, and many other books, Morris was a confirmed dog man and cat hater (everybody he knew had dogs), or so he claimed, prior to the arrival of Spit McGee. Born to a small, white adopted stray mother (named Rivers Applewhite, after a little girl Willie had adored as a boy) who came to the Morris household one Christmas, Spit McGee insinuated himself into the writer's life, and altered forever Morris's whole attitude toward and perceptions about felines.

“I started to notice Spit watching her (Rivers Applewhite) more closely, the way she moved and listened and observed and behaved herself. In our backyard in late afternoons and early evenings I was spellbound to see her consciously teaching things to him: how to sharpen his claws by scratching them on the bark of trees, for instance, or how to climb the trunks of trees into the overhead branches, and Spit would studiously watch her and then try to emulate her. Suddenly she would become utterly still and with a muted gaze peer suspiciously into the distance, and Spit's eyes would follow hers: two dogs on a leash, followed by the owner. And then, moments later, he would track again her movements as she stalked in the grass and weeds, on serpentine tiptoes, body low to the ground, searching for small creatures, bringing back to him a minuscule mouse or lizard or insect for his own private perusal, and soon I would see him in his own subtle searchings. Sitting on the back porch in the broiling summer nights I could not take my sight away from these atavistic entertainments. I marveled at how the two of them got around so well in the impenetrable darkness, their probing eyes like glowing circles, afraid of nothing, looking for everything.”

My Cat Spit McGee is a vivid description of what the author learned about cats over the years; their eccentricities, their habits, their resourcefulness, the ways they have been shaped by their origins in the ancient jungles, and how they differ from dogs. This small jewel of a volume honors and celebrates the relationship between Morris and his beloved furry companion, and is one of the finest books ever written about a cat. Be sure to read all about Spit McGee.

Copyright © 2003, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.