For Love Of A Cat

This is Buddy.  He was an extraordinary kitty, travel companion and friend.  He held confidences as though they were sacred, alerted me to unsavory people (cats having a sense of those things), and completed his long life with the same dignity with which he lived it. 
I’ve been talking about cats today, and I felt it would be appropriate to pay homage to my excellent little feline today.  He’s been gone now for a little over two years, having finally retired to wherever kitties decide to curl up and nap eternally, at the age of 19.  He survived his much loved companions, Bubba and Miss Kitt, each of them expiring or moving on, respectively, much to his remorse and, in the case of Bubba, a month of searching and crying for his friend to return to him.  Several of us cried with him as he tried to figure out why he was suddenly alone and bereft of the older, wiser adopted brother to whose stature he aspired.  Unhappily, Bubba the enigmatic bon vivant that he was, had run afoul of a passing car, causing the entire street to mourn him.  His gang of brother cats had lost their leader, the one with whom they wandered from door to door, visiting each other’s homes like a band of kids on summer vacation.
Buddy was left to deal with his grief, not quite bonded to anyone else as he had been to the older cat.  I had actually purchased Buddy as a companion for Bubba (thus the name, Buddy).  Bubba was a very social cat, and in spite of his affection for the human element, he longed for a sibling or, as evidenced by various attempts, even a dog friend.  When I saw the little half siamese kitten in the pet store, I had to have him and took him home to Bub as a present.  He wrapped his paws around the youngster and rolled him across the floor, overjoyed at the offering and ready to begin training him in the ways of cathood.  Unfortunately, Buddy always had a delicate system, and his response to the big friendly cat was to throw up in the middle of the living room.  Once done, however, he warmed up to the affection, although he was never an impulsively loving animal.
Eventually the two were inseparable.  When they had to be left at a kennel during a move, the vet’s assistant was amazed at the two male cats being so devoted to one another.  Once in their new house, Bubba’s effervescent personality made him a leader among the quixotic neighborhood cats.  One of them even wore a bandana and went by the name of Paco.  I have never before or since seen cats behave as these did.  They went from house to house, sometimes entering uninvited to check out the neighbors.  Everyone knew them and were quite happy to let them wander as they did, bringing them in the evenings to avoid being captured and eaten by the coyotes that howled through the desert nights.
Then, the fateful day when Bubba, excited to see someone, ran into the street in the path of car.  It was horrific, and the effect of losing that bright little personality affected all of us, human and cat.  Buddy was stricken with grief and would wander the house, calling at each doorway, hoping his best friend would emerge.  The ordeal of his search lasted about a month, and then he settled into a kind of morose attitude, not quite content but unsure of how to act alone.
The defining moment came when, against all of the rules, he was able to escape before dark and stayed out all night.  I was frantic, fearful of what might happen.  The next morning, those fears were realized when I found him on the front porch, his head bloodied and him seemingly in shock.  I got him to the veterinarian and didn’t ask questions when they took him and began the process of mending him.  After it was all said and done, I had a bill large enough to pay two months rent and a cat who had become this sleek little creature, barely resembling the fluffy little thing from just a week previous.  I slept on the couch with him, afraid that he might do something to damage the delicate little head that had been put back together with metal pins.  The doctor said it was like operating on chicken bones as they realigned his cheek and chin; the only evidence a small scar in later years beneath his mouth.
Something about that few nights on the couch with him created a bond that lasted until his dying breath.  From that moment onwards, he was my cat.  No one ever got between us, and his loyalty was unquestioned during all of those years.  On the night he died, I let him sleep in my bed, not being able to face his disappointment had I taken him in and done the unthinkable albeit to some humane thing by “putting him down”.  Even as he was suffering from some discomfort of the feline hyperthyroidism, he would reach out to me and touch me, letting me know that he could stand it if I would. 
I don’t expect to ever have another cat to rival my Bud.  He was a once in a lifetime experience, much like a soulmate or a perfect husband; rare but worth waiting for.  I don’t doubt there were imperfections, as there are in those we love of course.  Still, the fact that there is love involved diminishes whatever faults my lie beneath the surface or even blatantly on view. 
It was a privilege to live with Buddy, and a huge chunk of my life.  He traveled across the country with me, complaining little, adjusting every time.  Today, it’s good to know that love is always worthwhile, especially if you love a cat named Bud


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