Those of you who checked back on the comments of last week’s post will know that the Bugger-cat succumbed to cancer last Friday. The rest of you know now.
He earned his name at the age of 6 months when he joined us, a hyper kitten we adopted from the Reading shelter. His previous adopter had to surrender him when her boyfriend turned out to be abusive and she couldn’t keep him in her new accommodation. We suspected from his skittishness around any and all adult males that the abusive boyfriend was also abusive to the kitten, which may or may not have contributed to Bugger earning his name.
The Husband had the day off, so he planned to take the kitten to the vet for his first checkup. He’d checked on the kitten a few times during the day, and found nothing worse than sleeping and some exploration, but when it came to be time to introduce kitten to cat carrier, there was no sign of him. By the time the Husband had searched the house only to find the kitten inside a cupboard he’d already checked once, he was named Little Bugger.
He lived down to that name many times. The times he’d wrap himself around our ankles while we tried to go upstairs or downstairs, nearly getting squished along with nearly tripping one of us. The operatic performances when the tinned food didn’t arrive in his bowl quickly enough. The even more operatic performances that accompanied his trips to the vet (he really did not like traveling in cars). His love of sneaking outside so he could roll around on the cement, a love that was so pronounced that entering the house often came with a strategically placed foot or other object and a loud pronouncement that “You are not an outside Buggers!” (which he ignored, of course).
There was the time he got out and we couldn’t find him that night or the next morning. That evening he was crying at the door and thoroughly miserable.
And of course to counter that, there was the way he’d come and drape himself over my chest and knead my arm, and the way he would lean into being petted, and – if given the chance – give little nips as if he was grooming and removing unwanted stuff stuck in my “fur”. Never mind that human skin doesn’t work that way, Mommy’s arm wasn’t perfectly smooth so there must be something there that he could nip off to fix it.
The way he played with the toy that had a ping pong ball in a circular track, and worked out how to bat the ball and accelerate the bloody thing to ridiculous speeds by hitting it just right each time it circled its track. The way he’d get absolutely stoned on catnip and flop on his back so he could get tummy rubs.
We will miss him. I don’t know if I truly believe the Rainbow Bridge story, sweet as it is, but I do believe that none of the cats I’ve given my heart to have truly left. It might be my imagination or it might be something else entirely, but I remember how each of them jumps onto the bed, and how they choose their favorite spots on the bed.
Late at night when I’m half asleep, I’ll feel a cat land on the bed. I’ll feel their feet walking around. All of them have different patterns, and I recognize them. I’ll feel Her Royal Fluffiness Miss Shani (gone for 5 years now after 21 years of ownership – and yes, she owned me) snuggling into place between me and the Husband. Or I’ll catch a hint of old Rani’s (the first Siamese to own me) distinctive scent. Or feel Bugger’s light footsteps. And reach out automatically to pet them, and have my hand meet nothing.
And I know they might not be real, but they’re still there and they’re still part of us, and that will never change.
(Image: Shani in the kitty bed with Bugger watching me as he sits between my keyboard and monitor. Taken June of 2012)