Thinking of Bubby, the cat of a lifetime
With Misty Fritz
The Write Team
CARLINVILLE (Nov. 30, 2017) – Around the tail end of my freshman year of high school, a stray cat gave birth to a litter of three kittens in a barn on my grandpa’s farm outside Bunker Hill. Not long after, she was killed by a dog from a neighboring farm, so my aunt took the kittens home and bottle-fed them until they were old enough to eat on their own. She brought them back out to the farm on Father’s Day, when my mom, little sister (who was only four at the time — she’s now 21) and I were there visiting my grandpa, and, much to my delight, my mom let me pick one out to take home.
I chose the all-gray one, a male, and set out to pick the perfect name for him, finally settling on Ashes sometime on the way home. Fast forward 17 years, and that cat’s still around, but we haven’t called him Ashes in years. His name has evolved — first to Roo Roo, which was really more of a nickname do to the way he sat up on his hind legs so much in his younger years, and eventually to Bubby. I’m not even sure who started calling him that, or why, but it’s pretty much all we’ve called him for the last several years.
At 17 years old, Bubby is, understandably, becoming a cantankerous old man. Gone are the days when he would do flips in the air while chasing after a pompom or run across my mom’s bed and jump up to pull the string and turn her bedroom light off and on — repeatedly. Nowadays, he mostly just sleeps in front of the patio doors on a wooden bench I made in eighth grade shop class and screams at us to put ice cubes in the water bowl every time we get some for ourselves. He screams a lot, actually — we think he’s starting to go deaf (though he can definitely still hear it when we shake the bag of treats, because he immediately comes running). He doesn’t care too much for toys, but he absolutely adores wrapping paper tubes and catnip.
Bubby is a large cat — at one point, he weighed something like 17 pounds, though I think he’s down to around 14 now. It used to be mostly muscle, but that isn’t the case any more; now, most of his weight sags into what we affectionately call his “belly bags.” He’s got a cyst over his left eye that the vet says would be too risky to operate and doesn’t seem to be causing him pain, so we just leave it be.
His age is definitely starting to catch up with him in noticeable ways, and I dread the day I wake up to find he’s no longer with us. I make sure to pet him on my way out the door every morning and right before I got to bed every night, just in case. Frankly, I’m surprised it hasn’t already happened — I was shocked that he outlived my cat Bella, whom I had to have put down this summer due to feline immunodeficiency virus, even though she was only 7 years old.
All I know is that I am going to do my best to make sure Bubby’s time left, whatever it may be, is as good as it can be.