Right before I woke up this morning, I dreamed about Buster kitty. He and Bella jumped out of the car as I was parking and they ran off together to explore. My beautiful Buster sashayed around as he did when he was young, occasionally searching for me with those big golden yellow eyes. I know it was a visit because at one point he communicated to me as only he could do that he was well and felt young and happy. “I love you,” those golden orbs said. And then he ran off to play with Bella.
I am still crying on and off as I think about my boy. So much time was spent the last few months trying to get him to eat and worried about what was wrong that I didn’t truly get to say good-bye. I was relieved when the decision was made and knew that he was out of whatever pain he might have been in. I’m so glad we did that before this panic hit as I had already been so stressed trying to get him to eat. Almost daily visits to Petsmart distracted me from my real pain of losing my companion of 15 years.
But seeing him last night so young and beautiful and happy reminded me of his best days. He was a force in my life. No matter what happened – and lots did during his lifetime – he gave me a blow by blow of what was going on in his mind. Buster was the last of my kitties that were present during my second marriage that ended so horribly. He was born in Indiana and lived in Memphis, Louisiana and Michigan. He was always quick to adapt and helped both of my other animals get settled in whatever new situation we encountered.
When we first brought him home from the shelter, we tried to quarantine him to have a slow introduction to the other cats. From the empty room upstairs he was so loud that we finally opened the door and let him out. He made himself at home and got along with the other cats from the first instant. He followed me up to bed and plopped down on my shoulder that night. The next morning my husband told me that when he came to bed, Buster was asleep on my pillow curled up at the top of my head. He never knew a stranger. He knew nothing but love.
One year I took him to the vet for his annual checkup. I didn’t use a carrier for him because he was so relaxed no matter what we did. He was walking around while I paid and when I turned around we couldn’t find him anywhere. The veterinary staff looked everywhere and eventually we all fanned out into the field behind the office. Eventually one of the vet techs came down from the break room laughing. Buster had sauntered up the stairs to the employee break room and was napping in the middle of the table.
My Memphis vet called me in the middle of the workday to come get him. I had left him there for his checkup. This particular vet tech carried him around on her shoulder when he was there because that was the only way to quiet him. It wasn’t working that day. “But I have meetings and can’t come til 4,” I told her. “Come get him now,” she said. “He’s driving us crazy.” His big mouth is the reason I ended up with Buster in the first place. My ex and I had been wandering around the shelter looking at the cats and kittens, and Buster was yowling the entire time hanging on the fencing on his cage. Finally, we paid some attention to him because he was so obnoxious. We were struggling with a decision, so we let him make it for us. He was the boss.
Buster was my lap cat. As soon as I sat down or got in the bed, he was right on top of me. He was in my lap for just about every blog I ever wrote. He’d push aside Ashok or Bella or my computer to make space. At night, he had a habit of jumping into bed and plopping down on top of my chest right next to my chin. I’d put the cover over my head to keep him from licking my nose with his prickly tongue. His purr never stopped. I noticed in the last year or so that he wasn’t purring as often. I’d reach up and pet him to get it started. It soothed me as much as I like to think it did him. The last night he was alive, he was perched in the usual way on my shoulder with his two paws and his head right next to my face. I had the premonition that this would be the end, and I took a picture with my mind and heart.
I learned from Buster to ask for what you want, insist on the best and be adaptable to any situation. The first time I noticed that he wasn’t jumping anymore, I learned to deal with the sadness of watching my beloved pet inch his way toward death. I watched him learn to navigate steps instead of jumping up on my bed. I weaned him from hard food to wet food and had to stop answering his call for milk as it made him sick. But even on his last day he comforted me. As they gave him the sedative in that lonely room, he relaxed and began to purr. His liquid gold eyes held on to me as I assured him he would be okay. And last night he assured me that I was right. I miss that damn cat. Buster Kitty, please stop by anytime.