Pet Spotlight: Sugar & Spice

Millikin English Professor Dr. Michael O’Conner has always grown up around dogs. In fact, he even semi-adopted his maternal grandparents’ dog when he was younger. So, it might come as a surprise to people, including to O’Conner himself, that he is now a full-fledged cat person, along with the rest of his family.  

It all started eleven years ago. There were two twin sister kittens, a gray tabby and a gray tabby-and-white, that were found abandoned in a Missouri farm. Since there wasn’t a mother cat around, the farm owners had to hand-raise these kittens until they were fully weaned and could be given away. For his son’s birthday, O’Conner decided to adopt these two cats, named Sugar and Spice.

Their names are somewhat reflective in their personalities. Sugar, the gray tabby-and-white cat, is more mellow compared to her feisty sister Spice, the tabby. The cats, especially Spice, would run away if there’s company in the house. However, once these cats become familiar with their company, which should take about ten minutes, they would be found lying down on either your lap or your feet.

A quirk these cats shared was they could fetch better than the average dog. O’Conner would take the rings found on milk cartons, toss them, and they would catch and return them. Since they’re now grown cats, they don’t fetch as often as they used to. Now, they enjoy sleeping and eating, the perks most cats enjoy as they age.    

These cats have a knack for enjoying the best things life could offer a cat: protein and special cream. If they can get their paws on something that isn’t their dry cat food, such as chicken or canned tuna, they’d jump on it. And recently, O’Conner decided to feed the twins a special milk that cats could digest without giving them tummy trouble. Since cow’s milk contains an enzyme which makes it difficult for digesting, the special milk can be made for the average feline’s enjoyment.   

Sugar and Spice also enjoy chasing light. Whether it’s a laser pointer or a shiny surface reflected in sunlight, they will go after it if it’s shiny.

As nice as they are to have around, the one thing they can’t have is the pleasure of sleeping with their owners in bed. And it’s mostly thanks to the fact that if given the chance, these cats will try to sleep on their owner’s heads in the middle of the night. The O’Conner clan is certain to lock their doors at night to prevent them coming in and lying on their heads.   

A cat man through and through, O’Conner couldn’t recommend enough to people to have one. It’s important to note, if someone wants to get a cat, that people should be aware of what kind of cat they have/should get. Sugar and Spice are indoor cats. Outdoor cats, while a popular choice for some people, are also the number one cause of death for songbirds in the U.S. and the world. If adopting a cat is what you want to go for, it’s a crucial thing to keep in mind.   

But according to O’Conner, the best part about having them around is they’re just cats. You can’t train them like you could with dogs; however, cats have a shared aloofness they can wear like a badge. Thus, they have independence and would show their superiority to humans. When you enter the O’Conner household, you’re entering Sugar and Spice’s house.

All the same, O’Conner loves his cats. When they were younger, they were bold enough to perch on O’Conner’s shoulders. “I never had a parrot in my life, and I’ve never been a pirate, but that’s the next best thing,” O’Conner said. “When you got a kitten that sits on your shoulder.”