This past weekend we lost a member of our family. Buster, our companion cat and friend of 14 years, didn’t come home on Saturday night. He didn’t come home on Sunday morning, either. On our way to a lunch date, I spied his lifeless form on the side of the road. It was evident that his back was broken, he had suffered a head injury and had died some time during the night.
Buster came to us when Louise was 4 or 5. He was rescued from a drainpipe by our firefighter neighbor, who knew we were cat lovers. From the first moment he came into our house, he set about finding his place in the pride. He and Louise went back and forth for years trying to decide who should be higher in the pecking order. Buster would chase Louise around the yard, jumping up to swat her in the head. Those were the days he won. Louise would counter attack by strapping him into a harness, insisting that she was going to teach him to walk on a leash. In the end, Louise won through sheer persistence and love. She nicknamed him Moop, and he accepted his place as the youngest member of our family (although he never did walk on a leash for her).
Moop was a fun, independent, and ever so quirky cat. He hated to ride in the car, but loved to driveway surf (standing on the outside of the car as it rumbled down the driveway). He would run full bore toward a tree, vault about 6 feet up in the air and cling to the trunk in an heroic pose. Then he’d jump down and swagger away, as if to say, “no biggie – bet you can’t do that.” When we left the house, he would patrol the driveway until we came home, then run to the car, vault up on the hood and surf back to the house. He would also stand on a high place and jump onto the shoulders of the first person who happened to walk by, draping himself around their neck like a fur scarf. He could curse a blue streak, too. If we didn’t do what he wanted, when he wanted it done, he would chirrup and blurt out what we clearly understood to be the feline equivalent of f-bombs.
A teacher by nature, we saw him teaching younger neighborhood cats hunting skills, stalking birds through the grass as the student watched the master. He also tried to teach us when he wanted to come in by clinging to a closed window on the OUTSIDE, his body fully extended and attached to the window frame like a rock climber. (Didn’t work.)
He was a good cat, a kind soul who loved nothing more than snuggling on a cold night. I’m sure he wished he didn’t go out Saturday night, but he loved to explore and hunt, and I can’t change the nature of a cat. I hope he died quickly and didn’t suffer. I hope he knew how much we loved him. I hope the person who killed him feels some remorse.
On Sunday afternoon, with warm golden Autumn sunshine streaming from a crystal blue sky, Richard and I buried him under the apple tree by the driveway, a beautiful spot from which he can watch our comings and goings. Then we clung to each other for a few minutes, both keenly aware that we had just lost a very dear friend.
* * * * *