It is only a Cat

Buster on the life of Feral Cats, and the Human Condition

(A Goodbye to, and from, an Old Man)

Buster again:

It is obvious that my rather feeble, old man was in control of neither outdoor activities, nor his emotions. This sad old man, apparently was more in need of affection than was I. A bond of mutual affection that had developed between the two of us now allows me to speak of him to you; my message has been channeled through him. When doing this, I also am able to watch him. He now has become more attentive to the needs of the remaining members of my pride, particularly my litter mate.

I found some comfort in the company of the old man. He would always try to interest me in playing with a white, toy mouse, or a multicolored small, plastic ball. He also had put, in my own room, a collapsible cloth tube, and a plastic toy that was a closed, circular tube. The plastic toy contained a ball which was accessible to my paws through multiple openings. I would entertain him for awhile with my play, but I eventually would get bored; I would  want to answer the call of the out-of-doors. I wish I had spent more time with him. Looking back, I wish I had not answered the calls; I wish I had just stayed inside with him. He obviously appreciated my agility, my appearance, and my attitude. How I wish I were able to be with him again. I would do those things that seemed to offer him comfort. He would have me and I him.

I think of things as they were before the attack, and then channel these thoughts to him. I am particularly fond of our relationship when first we would meet in the afternoons. I have to admit that, while our relationship lasted, I was always glad to see him, especially when he and his wife would return from the grocery store with more food for us; I could depend on him.  As I would turn the corner, going from the front of the house to the side door, there he would be, a most predictable and reliable old man, with a grin on his face and a welcoming: “Hello, Buster-wuster.” With equal enthusiasm, I would move faster toward him, my fuzzy tail erect. I would pause beside him long enough to receive the embrace of both his hands, and I would purr in a buzzing fashion. I would then proceed to my place, just to the left of the side door where, unlike the other hungry cats, I patiently awaited his placement of a bowl of food in front of me.

Fatty still comes for breakfast and an evening meal –the evening meal being 4 or 5 servings. He comes earlier in the afternoon than he did before the attack. He patiently sits in the driveway; I know he is waiting for me. He also goes away for an hour or two when the old couple leave to go to the store. On these trips, he visits the places we used to visit together;  he knows I am no longer accessible among the living, but he too is grieving; he wonders why such an exceptional companion has gone away.

On my last morning, a human (in this usage, I give recognition to arrogance, stupidity, weaknesses, and imperfections) was walking a dog, but the animal was not on a leash (the leash was in the hands of the human, but only as a prop to be displayed in case a neighbor objected to a dog wandering freely in everyone’s yard). The dog was a big black and yellow animal with a large muzzle – basically, an ugly, dumb dog. The old lady from “our house” had just come out with food for us, and I was on my way from two houses down the street. I was hungry, having missed the late evening feeding before all the food was picked up for the night; I was not sufficiently alert. Before I knew it, the dog was crouched over me. My first reaction was practiced, but proved to be of no avail; I dropped into a position of submission. Then, I was in the dog’s mouth; he crushed and shook the life out of me. The old lady, when she came out of her house, noted my absence, but put out the food and went back in. The old man, when told that I was missing, came out looking for me. He saw me from a distance; I was on my side. He called me, but I could neither answer nor could I respond by approaching him. He came to my side and knelt. He quickly returned to his house. He immediately came out and was carrying a plastic bag. He was in the company of his wife. He again knelt and tried to pick me up. My mouth moved to one side and he tried to elicit other movements.  He looked at my lifeless form, seeing something that seemed more akin to a child’s stuffed toy. My motionless eyes were wide open and round, like those of a doll, or as might be seen in a cartoon of a cat. My pupils were dilated. A life, in full bloom, was gone; it was taken so quickly. The old man began to cry.

Now if I am to be with him, I have to channel; in this manner, I still can watch him, and being in his thoughts, I am with him. This strange companionship will continue, but only for as long as he is grieving. He obviously is searching for an explanation of what has happened. Having failed to provide security for me, and having lost me as a companion, he is greatly troubled. He often calls my name, or goes outside to look for me, even though he knows I am dead. I am in his thoughts and, for as long as his grief is his burden, I have access to him. I have to admit that, while our relationship lasted, I was always glad to see him at the end of the day. I could depend on him, even when the aggravation, which I provoked in my security duties, was almost incapacitating for him. My response to his aggravation would be irritation; I then would disregard his entreaties to come to him. On that last night, a stormy night, he tried to coax me into the house. I was annoyed by his earlier efforts to curtail my duties as “point man;” I refused the invitation.

I am not sure why, with all my gifts to confront life, I was denied the opportunity to interact with an old couple who obviously needed my affection; They were delighted to have me as “theirs.” It is hard to read “Plan” in my horrible ending. A thoughtless, selfish human, whose assumed special privileges included a special dog that did not require a leash, let an unrestrained dog seize me, and then crush and shake the life out of me.  It is a puzzle why a small animal, whose needs were so simple, whose demands were so few, should be torn away from what, even in normal events, would be an all too brief period of what humans call life. In a peculiar manner, the old man and I remain together, unable to affectionately caress one another. Each, in our sorrow, can be appreciative of the nearness of the other, however distantly one is removed from the other. Both are heartbroken.

I wish the old man had been more perceptive of my needs at the beginning of our relationship, but he eventually did work hard to have me as his own. Shame should be the lot of the dog owner. The owner hasn’t given me a thought. I know because I attempted to find sorrow in this human heart, sorrow for allowing a dog, one bred to be aggressive, to take away my pitiful little share of life and, in the act, to leave emptiness in the heart of those who look, but in vain, for me. Channeling doesn’t work on this kind.

Perhaps, I should cease channeling the old man; it breaks my heart to access his broken heart. I was His Gift to the old man. The old man appreciated this from the first, but fumbled too long in deciding how to accommodate me in a house that had never had a cat. For as long as he lives, I will be his companion. He will watch me swat the toy mouse, or chase after the moving ball in the plastic enclosure. He will “see” me slowly eat my food, taking some pieces out to better attack them on the floor. There will be times, when the old man, before entering the basement from the outside of his house, will look first to his left at the spot on the driveway were I would always sit, waiting for my bowl of food. On entering the basement, during these strange encounters, I will appear to him to be comfortably molded inside the rim of my little blue bed. It would appear to him that I had finally accepted being indoors. Each time, this fleeting vision is sure to be broken, and will be replaced by a heavy, aching heart, as I leave the bed, approach the door, and look to him for release. I cannot make his dreams come true. I cannot take my crushed, lifeless form out of his mind, or answer the call from life to death. The hiatus that separates the two of us cannot be crossed to satisfy the needs of either of us to be physically in the company of the other - for one of us to caress the other.


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