The horse's pasture to the East...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

MY BUDDY, GONE...He was a good fellow.

And then he was gone.

I've had cats in my life since I was a baby, first my Grandmother's cats and then my own. They're always a part of my background, coming and going on their own terms. And all of them have given me more than I gave them. The relationship wasn't like the one I have with my dogs. They weren't always cuddly or even highly demonstrative, but they were my friends none the less. 

They taught me about independence, grace, and being happy with what they had, being beautiful even in extreme old age or after a battering with another cat. I've doctored up more than one tattered ear, cleaned more than a few abssesses. 

Out here, on the preserve that we live on, there are predators ; coyotes, bobcats, hawks, owls and eagles. We've had an occasional bear wander up from Arkansas and , for a few years, reports of a cougar. Our house/barn cats live an intense life and all of them are lean and athletic. They come and go at their own will. I rarely say no to them unless we are dealing with a serious injury or illness. And the Mama cats who show up either pregnant or carrying babies are always allowed in and out as often as they like. Every single Mama we've had over the years has taught her kittens to be good hunters. And we never give the babies away until they are at least ten weeks old, sometimes older. Mom is an important part of the socializing of cats as well as teaching them the survival skills they'll need in the world.

They hunt for their food as well as living here with us and having free choice kibble (Taste of the Wild, no grain, all natural) and home made food and all of the milk or cream that they want. It's probably the excellent food as much as the attention that keep them here. There are an unlimited number of field mice, rats, gophers and rabbits. They love to show their kill off to me too, frequently bringing it home and depositing whatever they've caught on the front door step or bringing it in to leave next to my side of the bed. But that is the nature of a cat and I would not change that, ever. I love the remnants of wildness in them.

Buddy was my cat right from the beginning. His Mama, Phoebe, is a dwarf. She has extremely short legs and a tiny, stubby tail. I call her my little Short Round. She turned up in the tree out in front, crying, one evening. She looked so much like Annie, our other grey cat, at the time I picked her up and brought her in without thinking about it. We were on the way to a movie in town and I like to bring my animals in, if possible, while we're away. We came home to two identical grey cats sitting on either end of the sofa in a face off. Turns out they were both pregnant at the same time too so we had two litters within a day of each other. Annie claimed her space upstairs, Phoebe was downstairs in my studio.

Buddy was Phoebe's first born and largest baby too. His Daddy must have been a big fellow because he had long legs and the longest tail I've ever seen on a cat. He was colored like fog with big yellow eyes and a surprisingly pink nose. He was the first out of the baby box, crawling up the side and finding his way down the hall to call to me from the bottom of the stairs just a few days after he'd opened his eyes. He spent his days being doted on by his Mom or sitting under my easel, crawling up my blue jeans or following Crazy Joe Cocker around. 

When I went on hikes he was the cat, along with the dogs, who always followed me. If he fell behind he would call and I would answer and wait. It was our own Marco Polo game; " Meow. Meeeeoow. MEEEOOW!" and me, " I'm here you silly cat, waiting. " And here he would come, gallumping up out of the woods, jumping from tree trunk to tall grass. He'd see me, sit down and clean his face and then follow me non challantly, " I wasn't lost. I meant to be right where I was. " He was my shadow, always there and more than willing to be acknowledged as the exceptional fellow he was.

I can't tell you if he was unusual. All cats are unusual. I can tell you that he was the extrovert. He would sit on a fence post and rub his face against one of the horses when they came over and he loved to sit between Apache's front feet and steal the first bite of grain, much to Apache's chagrin. I went out one morning to do chores and there Buddy was, asleep on top of Lucky. Lucky was stretched out in the clean bedding on his side, snoring . Buddy was laying there cuddled up under Lucky's winter mane, riding the wave of Lucky's deep breaths and kneeding away. Lucky had this goofy, "Man that feels good!" look on his face too. It's one of my favorite 'heart pictures' (memories that I didn't have a camera to catch). I sat down on the ground and leaned back against the stall wall, enjoying the wonderful, wacky world of Buddy.

And then he was gone. John found him at the top of the drive. He'd been run over, we think the night before. He was hard to see, probably why he had lived to the extraordinary age of thirteen. I'm guessing, hoping, it was an accident and that he never knew what hit him. It was unusual for him to be that far away from the house at night but he may have been chased by one of the new cats next door (Buddy didn't have a sense of territory. He probably went over to say 'Howdy!' and may have been bonked and chased) or it may have been one of the night time predators after him. 

John found him on my birthday and didn't want to tell me so he came on down the drive and then found a reason to go back that evening, to get him and bury him. He was gone, probably taken by, again, a coyote. It doesn't matter now. He wasn't in his body anymore. Nature takes care of it's own and he was definitely part of the landscape here.

I'm going to miss my little Buddy. The barn is too quiet and his beat up chair in the living room is vacant. He gave himself his own name in that way most cats do. We were calling him Buddy before his eyes were open because he loved to be held, would hear me coming and would call for me to pick him up. I will miss his deep gravel purr and his heavy little body asleep on top of my legs in the bed on cold nights. 

I'll see you again someday Buddy. I have no doubt you'll be there, winding yourself around my legs, when it's my turn to leave this world. We'll play our Marco Polo game as you lead me across only you'll be the one waiting and laughing.

I love you Buddy. 

I am, ever yours, Miss Nancy missing you...


Susan Carlin said...

So beautiful and sad. Didn't expect to end my day in tears, but the beauty of your story and memories touched me- thank you. XXOO

Nancy, smiling! said...

Thank you Susan. He was a true friend in a very feline way. He made me laugh every day too. Phoebe, his Mom, spent the night last night on top of me trying to find comfort. She's bereft without her "boy" to check on and scold every morning for coming in late. I'm hoping she will end up cuddling with Apple like Buddy did.