It was love at first sight. He looked up at me with bugged out green eyes and a totally deranged and excited expression on his little gray face. They let me hold him and the deal was sealed. As I cupped him in the palms of my hands, he purred nonstop like a miniature V-8 engine. He was just devastatingly cute and there was no way I was leaving the shelter without him.
Buggy was the result of an unsuccessful trip to an animal shelter to find a dog that was good with cats. They didn’t have any dogs like that on that day, but they did have this tiny little gray fur ball of a kitten.
He had actually grown a lot bigger by the time this picture was taken.
So now we had two cats… We got the first one by accident, and I mean literally by accident. I ran over her with my car on the way home from a local scuba dive. I felt the dull thud under the front end of the car and immediately slowed down and stopped.
As I looked in my rear view mirror, a pair of glowing green eyes in the middle of the dark road stared back at me. I got out and ran back to the stricken cat lying in the road. It didn’t look good… She was bleeding from the mouth, and when I picked her up and cradled her in my arms, she shivered and shook uncontrollably. I thought she was only a few minutes away from the end. She let out a long pathetic yowl as I continued to hold her. I felt so bad…
I was sure I’d killed her. But she must have used up seven of her nine lives to survive, because we brought her to a nearby animal hospital, and miraculously, she came out of it with only a broken jaw, and made a complete recovery. We tried everything to find her owners, but no one came forward after two weeks, so she became our cat, and we named her Natasha.
She was a dark slate grey short hair with white socks on all four feet, with a white chest and a white muzzle with a pink nose and a strip of white up between her eyes. She had extra toes on her front paws and she was a lethal mouser as well as a song bird killer, which caused my wife to burst into tears on more than one occasion. But she and I still loved Natasha anyway, and she did keep our home mice free.
We tried keeping her indoors, but we soon knew that she hated it, since she had clearly been an outdoor kitty before we got her, and keeping her inside seemed cruel. So since we lived on a quiet street, we let her be an outdoor kitty again.
Natasha Kitty at Christmas.
Natasha with her toy mice.
Let me tell you about my all time favorite cat, Buggy.
Buggy was one of those genuinely original pet personalities that comes along once in a pet owners lifetime. He was wild, full of high energy and deviltry, and possibly the most strange and eccentric creature I’ve ever known. I never knew what was coming from him next, and I was often astounded by the things he did. By cat standards, he was almost dog like and very sociable and affectionate. He loved to be held and cuddled with. He always wanted to be the center of attention, and the one thing that really bugged Buggy, was when he felt like he was being ignored.
He could be difficult at times, because there was nothing he loved more than causing and getting into trouble. We used to call him “Kitty Chaos”. But he could also be hysterically funny with his antics, and when he wasn’t driving me crazy, he was making me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breathe!
He had an obsession with water, and would fight with the water coming out of the kitchen sink faucet until he was drenched. He also figured out how to turn on the kitchen sink faucet, which became a bit of a nuisance, since he never turned the water off. More than once, he got into the bathroom and jumped in the shower with my wife, as she was trying to get ready for work.
One year on Valentines day, I got my wife a dozen long stem roses and put them in a vase with water, in the center of the dining room table. While she and I were hugging, we were interrupted by a loud crash! Buggy saw the water in the vase and took a flying leap at it, knocking the vase, the roses, and all the water flying everywhere! This wasn’t very funny at the time, but now we both laugh about it.
I came home from work one warm summer evening while it was still light out, and no sooner had I gotten out of my car, when I saw Buggy chasing a small skunk into the backyard. I was immediately filled with dread at the prospect of just getting home from a hard day at work, only to have to deal with a skunked cat! But Buggy came strolling around out to the front yard from the other side of the house, as though everything was fine and there was nothing to worry about. There was no skunk stench in the air… He stopped at my feet and looked up at me as if to say, “It’s cool, man. That little black and white striped dude is a friend of mine…”
And as unbelievable as this sounds, eventually I found out that he liked skunks and he liked to follow them around. I saw him walking around at night with skunks several times. He never got sprayed, although he’d come home smelling slightly skunky, because I think he was rubbing up against the bushes where they sprayed. One night I pulled into the driveway and the first thing I saw, was this huge skunk right in front of my headlights! And there was my cat standing right next to him! I waited until they both wandered off, before I dared to get out of the car!
He was also fascinated with dogs, and he would often walk towards them – and often not with the best results, which meant that sometimes he’d end up high in a tree after his dog encounter. But in spite of this, he still liked dogs and he’d still try to come up to them.
I know that his antics seem to defy belief, but I’d swear on a bible right now, that every word here is true. He would watch NFL football with me, and get very excited when a player got tackled. He even learned how to tackle by watching football, and he’d often rise up on his hind legs and launch himself at another cat, wrapping his front legs around the cat and slamming him or her to the ground. There were a number of cats in our neighborhood who hated him for this reason. This often included our own Natasha, who would screech in outrage when Buggy used her for a tackling dummy!
He wasn’t always the brightest animal, and although he could climb up to the top of tall trees very quickly, he had no clue how to get back down again. I risked my life several times getting him down out of trees that were 40-50 feet high. But he finally figured it out when he was four years old, and I saw him backing down a tree. It was a great day!
He never learned how to catch mice or birds, but he would hide and wait for other cats to catch them, and then come dashing up from behind and steal the other cat’s mouse or bird! Another reason that other cats hated him! And again, poor Natasha was often Buggy’s favorite victim. Not surprisingly, Natasha hated the very sight of Buggy anywhere near her, and always threatened him with a loud and menacing hiss whenever he came close. For most of seven years the two of them divided our house into “his and hers” territories, and there were many border skirmishes between them, but fortunately injuries were rare.
We could never leave a pie or a cake where Buggy could get into it, because he would eat pie and cake, and get it all over his face! He looked ridiculous when he had blueberry pie filling all over his face, and even though we’d get mad at him, it was still hard not to laugh! He loved to eat, and he ate like a little pig, purring enthusiastically while chowing down on his cat food. Then he would wander the neighborhood to look for other cat’s food to eat… In his later years, all his eating started to catch up with him, and he gained some extra weight.
Buggy becoming a fat cat. As you can see here, he had a problem with being way too tense and stressed out… Lol!
He liked loud parties, and if someone was having an outdoor party in our neighborhood, he would go to it on his own. He was very sociable and friendly, and he loved being around groups of people.
They definitely broke the mold when they made him! He was a true original and a real eccentric, and I just loved him. And when he died of a liver tumor in 1998 at only seven years old, it broke my heart and I still miss him to this day. I’m 55 years old and I’ve loved and lost pets throughout my entire life, and I’ve dealt with the grief of losing all my other dogs and cats no worse than the average person does.
But losing Buggy hit me very hard. One day he was fine and trying to shred up my daily newspaper, because he was jealous of the attention it got from me while I was reading it… and the next day he was deathly sick, and the day after that, I had to put him down…
He was only seven years old, and just so full of life and hysterically funny craziness! Most cats live to be so much older than that. To so suddenly lose him out of the blue like that, is still hard for me to accept… even over 12 years later. I’ve tried at least three times in the last several years to write a blog post about him, and until now I could never get myself to finish it.
My last picture of Buggy
But hey, on the lighter side, I was just literally laughing out loud thinking about how jealous Buggy was of my newspaper. I was sitting in my easy chair one evening, holding the paper up in front of me to read, when Buggy took a flying leap at the paper and came crashing down on it, landing in my lap in a heap of crumpled up newsprint! He looked up at me with a scowl on his face, and then leapt off my lap as if to say “And THAT is what I think of you and your newspaper!!!”
You’d think that this would make me angry, but instead I couldn’t stop laughing for two minutes straight! :-)