Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ode to "BUD", the cat

Writing about a cat is like pondering an enigma: there is cat laid out before me, unanswerable and mysterious, napping there in his feline sprawl: there's nothing to write about, unless the cat has taken over your favorite spot.

Tonight I realized our front patio is actually the throne of our family cat, “Bud”.

Bud is one of those cats your young son insists he will totally take care of: then, 15 years later, it’s all you and your kid is gone. I never liked cats much; and, certainly didn’t want this one.

The patio, my favorite spot here at home, is a 15 foot by 15 foot cement slab kind of stuck on the front of our house with a heavy, pointed overhang roof, around which I have nailed up white plastic, crisscrossed fencing that almost completely encloses it. I left a five foot wide opening facing the door, so it empties out on the street. It's almost invisible in there from the street.

Inside the fencing are white Christmas tree lights in a try at re-producing Stanley Kubrick’s lighting schemes. On the floor are squares of rattan as outdoor rugs. And, there are lots of fall leaves, even ‘tho I’ve got hazy vinyl plastic tacked up all around the inside to keep a little weather out. It’s ‘off code’ for my neighborhood and kind of crappy but I love it out there. It’s my funky spring, summer, fall think tank. My private, little throne zone.

There are four chairs out there, three of them are passed-on plastic lawn chairs from a friend a few years ago and a leather director’s chair I bought at the local Church Shop for five bucks. Also, a black metal table with a cheesy lamp on top and a couple of Vice magazines on the bottom platform.

Back against the wall, rather in the center of the seating arrangements, is Bud’s pale cream, fluffy pillow where he oversees his domain, weather permiting.

He’s real old now, has a nasty tumor on his jaw and his hair is getting ratty. He came to us from London’s Humane Society after they found him just born under a Soho bridge. Bud grew up in London's West End as my son’s dearest pet, then moved with us to a barn on a West Branch, Michigan farm, and lastly, now lives in a quiet Detroit suburb. In a tough, old stray cat's paradise!

Bud has always been an outdoor cat. He’s thoroughly British: Always been ‘offish’ / Never warm and cuddly. So, for most of his life I’ve kind of resented him. “Did you feed the cat, honey?” “Could you do the cat litter, honey?” This for a cat who never acknowledged I existed. A cat whose contribution has been killing my favorite birds.

I first warmed to Bud on our farm in Michigan. One day, I heard these screams from my barn, then saw this large, orange and black scruffy, farm cat running like Hell from our barn toward the road below. A moment later, here came Bud sauntering toward the house having just routed out a stray that was to his dislike.

Skinny as he always has been, he’s a tough, eccentric cat and I’ve grown to respect and like him. Now over 17 years old, the Vet has told us he’s dieing.

So, this is probably his last Fall where he protests coming into the house. Prefering to stay outside as long as possible, sleeping during the day in my private throne zone, while the birds and squirrels float around and by him drowsing the day away in my favorite spot!

My wife and I are giving him lots of love; and, the son who raised him has asked to be there at his last. And, I keep his pillow nice and fluffy.

The scraggly old bastard has been a good pet after all.