*His name has been changed to protect the guilty.

North Greenville University has an unwritten slogan: “Ring before Spring or your money back!” That’s because of the disproportionate amount of women who go there to get their “MRS” in addition to their BS or BA degree. I did not get my MRS at North Greenville (I would like my money back, please). Instead, I got a cat, which is arguably the better of the two options (still want my money back, though).

The first time I saw Bad Kitty I almost ran over him with my car. He was just a tiny black kitten running around our dorm parking lot at night, when I was driving my roommate Jordan and friend Liz to see the midnight premiere of The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Since it was pre-midnight, the date was November 19th, 2009.

I didn’t see Bad Kitty for another week or two, but I heard that some girls in another dorm had been putting food out for him. My friend Liz encountered him next. As she was bringing things back into her dorm after Thanksgiving Break, Bad Kitty ran inside and hid under the vending machines in the hallway. After a tremendous amount of coaxing, she managed to get him out and took him to her room, which is where he stayed for the next week or so. Pets weren’t allowed on campus, so on room check days, he got shuffled around the dorm to make sure the RAs wouldn’t find him.

Bad Kitty when he lived at the dorms (2009)

Christmas Break was fast approaching and Liz knew her parents wouldn’t let her keep him and we certainly weren’t going to let him loose to fend for himself for a whole month while they campus was closed. Plus, it was cold. So, I contrived a plan. I asked my mom and stepdad if I could care for the kitten just for as long as it took for me to find him a new home and promised that he wouldn’t come inside the house (that was the new rule after our other cats had all passed away. My mom took care of stray we named RumTumTugger, but he stayed outside). Miraculously, they agreed and Bad Kitty came home with me for Christmas Break.

I did, in fact, try to find him another home, but literally everyone I asked either didn’t want a kitten or had just gotten one themselves. Which was fine by me since the home I had planned on finding for Bad Kitty was my own. And it worked. It didn’t take long for my family to become attached. He had an official name almost as soon as he arrived (it would be months however before any of us admitted this to my stepdad who resisted claiming the cat as our own). Anyway, with pets, if you name it, it’s yours. And so it was with Bad Kitty.

Since he wasn’t allowed inside, he lived on a kennel on our deck until he was old enough and big enough to roam the yard on his own. As a young cat, he was very mild manner and chill. He hardly ever meowed and always let all the neighborhood cats come by and eat all his food while he just sat there and watched.

Bad Kitty’s 1st snow (2010)

A few months after I got him, he got very sick and wouldn’t move except to lay in patches of sun. I took him to the vet and he had a fever of 107F, which is hot even for a cat. He had fluid therapy and was able to come home the next day, after which he became more talkative. My family joked that the fever fried his brain and made him chatty. This is when we also discovered that Bad Kitty has a pretty significant heart murmur, which means it is unsafe for him to go under anesthesia.

For the next six years, Bad Kitty ruled the roost. He stayed outside mostly, but it when it got cold it didn’t take him long to discover which window was my bedroom window, so I’d let him sneak inside as long as he behaved himself. This went on in secret for a while until my brother found out and then my mom. My stepdad only found out months later when Bad Kitty tried to come inside through the wrong window, but eventually he said as long as the cat stayed in my room, it was fine.

Bad Kitty in the fake flower box on our deck (2014)

Bad Kitty was an excellent hunter. He loves squirrels. When he was younger, he hunted them himself and would bring them on our back patio to devour. As he got older, he learned to follow my brother or stepdad around if they were out in the yard carrying a rifle because that meant they were going to shoot squirrels and he would get a free snack. He was trained to the point that if he was out and about in the neighborhood and heard a gun shot, he would run home and start looking for a downed squirrel, which he would then fetch and bring to the patio to nom upon. Once, he even stole a squirrel from our neighbor who was out thinning the population.

Bad Kitty was also a brawler. If he stayed out late at night, he would get into fights with the neighborhood cats, so I tried to keep him in his kennel at night as much as possible. At 15lbs, Bad Kitty was a force to be reckoned with, but he soon met his match in the form of a 6-month-old 6lb stray kitten.

When Bad Kitty was six, Kitten arrived and ruined everything, according to him. First of all, she was tiny and sassy and had the audacity to steal his food. Then, Kitten had kittens, which is a whole other story (they’re not Bad Kitty’s kittens; he’s neutered). Bad Kitty went from being Top Cat of the ‘Hood to Grumpy Uncle. To this day, he’s resentful, but he’s learned to put up with the other cats pretty well. He adjusted the best to our latest cat, T.C.

Bad Kitty putting up with Kitten and her brood (2015)

Two years ago, Bad Kitty got diagnosed with FIV and possible congestive heart failure, so he has been allowed to break the “No Cats Inside” rule and now lives almost exclusively indoor (we cordoned off the deck so he can go outside without being exposed to other cats). He’s 14 years old now and living the good life, snoozing on my bed and staying cozy in the central heating and air. He’s adjusted remarkably well to house-life despite having been an exclusively outside cat for 12 years of his life. He rules the roost inside, just as much as he did outside, and loves to boss all his humans around until he gets what he wants. Such a Bad Kitty!

Bad Kitty chillin’ on the deck (2023)

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