Bringing Back Buster (Day 9)

I was going to settle in for an evening of household chores, work catch-up, whatever, and absolutely not engage in a battle of wits with my demon cat. No, he’s not a demon. He’s never scratched or bitten me. He’s just never liked me all that much. In reverting to feral mode since getting out last week, he ignores calls of his name (or, at least, presents a stoic front; perhaps it’s possible that calling his name helps keep him close).

Buster in the crawlspace

Tonight’s negotiations with Buster once again went poorly.


So…I returned home tonight with some KFC, not because I enjoy the Kentucky Fried Cruelty so much (really, I don’t, but I did eat it; I’m sorry, Wayne Pacelle), but presented itself as a convenient solution to following a suggestion from a member of the animal rescue community who had suggested fried chicken as a lure. So I’d leave a trap with some fried chicken out over night.

But when I got out of the car, I heard Buster meowing. He seemed to be meowing to get my attention. I found him under the neighbor’s car, where he has spent considerable time. Unfortunately, I knew that he would not simply come when called. But I could get within feet of him.  We chatted and ate KFC popcorn chicken together. He let himself be vulnerable and got on his back and stretched and let me pet him. I was in no position no grab him, though, and I know he knew that. If I got too close, he relocated to another corner of the car. If I tried to sneak up on him, he ran to the grassy area between my house and my neighbor’s. It was a 30-minute game of cat and mouse, where I was the cat, and Buster was the mouse, and I lost.

I tried to be patient, but I knew I could spend the night in a standoff with him only to come up empty. I had a neighbor come over, and I hoped her approach would scare Buster toward me, and I might be able to snag him.

But Buster veered sideways, into the thicket in front of my house, and where there’s an accidental entrance to my crawlspace. (The front and back entrances have been alternately opened and closed throughout the week, as I’ve employed various strategies to catch Buster).  I was able to get within a couple of feet of Buster, but I was lying flat on my stomach on the ground, and he was recessed from an opening perhaps ten inches high.

Eventually, the negotiations, as in the past, failed, and he retreated.

Ooh, but I had him trapped there now! I thought. No, I had the other side of the house wide open. He certainly sprinted out the back.

So after getting scraped and dirty and humiliated once again, I came back inside, and I’ll now go back to the original plan of trying to trap him again.

So there’s the narrative of this evening’s episode.  I hate to have spent so much time on it. I really wanted to get to the emotional side of this saga.

This has been an emotionally draining saga. Yes, Buster has remained close, and I’m grateful for that. But the cat doesn’t like me. I’ve known that for the past two years. I’ve had cats who’d come to me when called and when not called. I’m being rejected by this cat in the worst way. Ok, still most reading don’t take this too seriously.

Look, I’ve been kidding about having too many pets for the past four-and-a-half-months, since I got kitten Desmond. Four pets is too many for me, but they’re mine. I’ve accepted responsibility of caring for them as long as they’re able to reasonably enjoy life. And they all fit in well together. The pit, the tabby, the tortie, and the black kitten. It’s insane at times, but as I exist day-to-day struggling to discover my identity, I do strongly identify as the guy with too many pets, who is glad to have all of them. It hurts a lot to lose one of them. It doesn’t matter that it’s only been two years and not twelve. It doesn’t matter that he never comes up to lie on my chest. It feels like a real lose.

So now I’ve jumped the shark, in case no one has ever read one of my blog posts before. “Struggling to discover my identity.” What?  It gets more existential….

I feel quite alone in this struggle. I have a lot of Facebook support. But I’m home alone with this, as I am when I struggle with illness or career woes or whatever the self-doubt of the day is. It sucks–for me–to be alone. And this cat episode is a trigger for that frustration. (Indeed, there are many. Perhaps I’ll touch on others some other time).

Also, it’s September, and I generally consider this month and next to be the small window of the year in which I can really make progress. The heat starts to abate. Cool breezes can be felt. I sweat less. The world is a prettier place. Time to find activities…

9:49PM Interrupted by a ruckus outside. I spotted a puffy dark cat running away from my porch, and it seemed another creature was near. I’m thinking the latter was Buster. In any case, I decided it was a good time to set up a trap. So there’s some semi-raw chicken in a shiny new trap on the porch.

Where was I? Basically, my last nine days have been about finding Buster and then getting Buster back inside. It’s been more physically and emotionally taxing than I could imagine.

But, then, I know others who have been dealt far more severe hands, and I know that, on many levels, obsessing over my lost cat is too much. I know it is, and I feel guilty about it.

So, this is a blog entry. What’s up with that? That’s subject for another day.

Advertisement for the soul

Despite what I posted last night, I am really bleeping proud of myself. Every bit of code I write that works immediately or works three days after I got suck, is a bit I feel good about. If you detect some dissonance here compared to what I’ve previously written, perhaps there is, but there is plenty of room for both immense self-doubt and exuberant confidence to co-exist. Exuberant confidence? There are moments, and I’ll live-blog it right now, that think, even if no one else does, that it is remarkable that I have an app, which I could use to:

Upon seeing the following page in Flickr…

Within 60 seconds…

2. Create a account

3. Add the pet’s name

4. Add the user’s Flickr accont

5. Add the tag the user uses to tag their pet

6. Click View Page and

I’m not finished yet by a long shot. But I can do this…look at the kitty!

That guy with the cat

This essay A Man and His Cat by Tim Kreider (NYT // 2014.08.01) is worth the full read if you want to try understand that guy with the cat, which is basically me.

Some notable excerpts:

I lived with the same cat for 19 years — by far the longest relationship of my adult life.

I realize that people who talk at length about their pets are tedious at best, and often pitiful or repulsive. They post photos of their pets online, tell little stories about them, speak to them in disturbing falsettos…

This is especially true of childless people, like me, who tend to become emotionally overinvested in their animals and to dote on them in a way that gives onlookers the creeps.

…people have a certain reservoir of affection that they need to express, and in the absence of any more appropriate object — a child or a lover, a parent or a friend — they will lavish that same devotion on a [pet].

A man who is in a room with a cat — whatever else we might say about that man — is not alone.

Zellouisa 1997-2014

Zellouisa Mugshot (BW)

I brought home Zellouisa as an itty bitty kitty back on October 1, 1997, after a co-worker who lived in Eden asked if I wanted another cat. Today, for the first time in 18 years, I don’t have any kitties. I had to put Zellouisa to sleep today, after she apparently suffered a torn achilles tendon a few days ago, probably brought on by the general weakening that comes with being 17-year-old cat with various diagnosed and undiagnosed medical conditions. I’m afraid she was in quite a lot of pain these past couple of days. Sweety Z. Weezie Weeze. I know she really enjoyed being the only kitty over the past year. I thought she was doing ok. But things happen. This is tough. I’m sure I’ll have more to say soon enough, or, at the very least, I’ll probably start a post-a-thon of the Best of Z, in photos. Goodbye, sweet girl.

Pets on canvas

I finally used my credit for five 16×20 canvas prints from which operates locally out of Apex. I had already had one previous canvas of Herman and Aremid together. I spent awhile trying to figure out how I’d arrange these six prints. Two rows of three is what I had planned for months. Ultimately, I realized that one just didn’t fit.

So these five are together:


Aremid gets the most wall-space, and the prints are arranged in a sort-of symmmetry: Aremid-Zellouisa-Herman-Aremid-Zellouisa-Herman-Aremid.

And Mr. F gets his own corner:


Mr. Featherbottom: 2009-2013

As previously reported in Facebook, because that’s where breaking news happens, Mr. Featherbottom passed away on Thursday after a very brief illness. He was approximately 4 years only. He was only with me for a little more than 9 months. I had Aremid for 16 years. I’ve had Zellouisa for 16 years. Herman is 12 going on 13. I figured he would be my insurance policy against losing all my pets at once. His run in the household was shockingly brief.

I am only being honest to say that I resented him at times for his aloofness and seeming lacking of affection. He was the prototypical cat in ways, whereas I was used to cats who clearly adored me and gave back to me as much as I gave to them. But I also realized that Mr. F couldn’t help how he had been treated for the first 3 years of his life. He didn’t dole out much love and would keep to himself, but he was also extremely trusting and would not hesitate to make himself completely vulnerable by falling asleep splayed out on his back.

It may have been for the best that he played the role he did. He crowded out Zellouisa for food and raised Herman’s anxiety level by blocking his path, but, generally, he did not angle for attention and didn’t mind at all that I gave most of mine to H & Z.

He never curled up in bed with me or cuddled on the couch or cuddled at all. It wasn’t his thing. Maybe that would have changed if he had ever become the prime pet, maybe not. He was a beloved member of my family, even if I never had much cause to say “good boy”. I called him “big boy” a lot, but it was said with affection…mostly. I would kid with him that he would just take and take and take. This was true, but I came to accept that he was here to simply be a cat.

He was a big boy, indeed. I struggled to strike the right balance between getting geriatric Zellouisa enough calories and keeping Mr. F’s obesity in check. Pancreatitis can be caused by obesity, and Mr. F hadn’t been to the vet since I took him home last September. But his weight had stabilized months ago, and, considering he had seemed fine as recently as last weekend, my vet thinks this acute onset was caused by something out of my control. Had his diet contributed to “the worst case of pancreatitis” she had ever seen, it would have been because he had eaten a tub of lard, she said. It was a freak thing. Fine one day. Ravaged by disease the next.

He had been noticeably ill on Tuesday. I brought him to my regular vet on Wednesday. An ultrasound early Thursday confirmed the suspicion of pancreatitis, and it was as bad as it could be.

I shall note that I did not have to have him put to sleep. The alternative would have been to send him to the 24-hour veterinary hospital, like where Herman had been last week for a couple of days. Except Mr. F would have had to have been there for 5-7 days, being tube-fed, and in constant discomfort. He had already been in tremendous pain for 48 hours. And…to be perfectly blunt, the financial cost would’ve been staggering. IF I had not just spent a staggering amount on Herman’s surgery…IF I had had Mr. F for years…IF we had established the same strong bond I had with my other pets…maybe I would have done whatever it took to save him. BUT…it was also likely, given the severity of his condition, that, having survived this trauma, he would have been left with massive organ damage and constant health problems. I don’t have to justify my decision, but I want to be honest about my thought process. I could have tried for a different outcome. On so many levels, though, it just wasn’t worth it.

I actually contemplated not going out to the vet when Mr. F was put down. He wouldn’t care, I thought. But I quickly changed my mind. I owed him that. And he was actually more alert than I suspected he would be. He let me give him a belly rub for awhile, so I think he was aware of my presence. But eventually he did move away, and he eventually turned his back on me, which was typical of him. I don’t begrudge him that. Unlike with Aremid, I didn’t stay to watch the end. I knew that by the time I left the parking lot, he’d already be in an irreversible state and gone within a few minutes.

Mr. Featherbottom deserves a more loving tribute than what I’ve given him so far. Let’s see…he loved belly rubs. He loved to eat. He’d crowd out Zellouisa, but it was amusing to watch. He would get his rear in the way of the food I was trying to put in the bowl. He’d zig-zag between my legs as I’d walk, and I stepped on him a few times as a result.

It was a week or two after I got him before I realized that the adorable ridiculously high pitched squeeks he emitted were signs of unhappiness. He expressed discomfort with mousy noises, not growls or whails. He didn’t particularly enjoy being picked up, but I’d do it just to hear these sounds.

So he was adorable…all the time. He way eye candy if you enjoy watching cute cats. Sitting in a loaf with his big butt or splayed out on the floor in a squashed position. Curled up asleep. Stretched out on his side. Perfectly content on his back, full belly exposed…

Mr. Featherbottom took full advantage of the storm door I had put in back in December, as he’d lie down in front of it and gaze outside even know he never expressed any interest in going outside. I’m not sure if he had ever set foot in the outdoors. He would play kind of a game of chicken with Herman where I would come back home with Herman after a walk, and it was entertaining to see which one would give way first. Sometimes Herman would get to the door and turn around in fear. Other times, Mr. Featherbottom would bolt.

I wish we had more time. I was so curious if our relationship would evolve, what he might be like in a few years when he was the prime pet. I’m not going to know. Poor guy. I hope he was happy here.

Mr. F