God Speed Little Man

Written on 04/04/2018
Jeane George Weigel

Bubba is a sensitive soul who has worked hard to fit. He has risen above fear, confusion and loss in order to live a good life. I believe there just may be some lessons for all of us in that.

Bubba sitting with his best friend this morning

Note: I’m republishing this piece about my dear Bubba which was first posted in 2012, a rescue kitty whose age I’ve never known who came to live with me about 12 years ago or so. He is in the last days of his good life and I thought it would be nice for him to have all of you wishing him well on this new journey. God speed Little Man. We’ll miss you every day.

This is Bubs, Bubby Bear, the Bubster, Bubbalisious…

He weighs 25 pounds and some people (the less kind among us) say he looks like he swallowed a football:

But he thinks he has a cute butt and I have to say I agree:

He adores a fire on cold mornings:

And LOVES to roll around in the dirt, fluffing himself up like a bird giving itself a dust bath–filling his fur with dirt…

… then sleeping on my bed…

… leaving his dusty mark. Thank you Bubs!

He is my only kitty who is allowed out the front door, supervised only:

Although the entire kitty enclosure is there for him 24/7, he won’t use the cat door, much as he loves being outside. Thus the compromise. The supervision is required because there are lots of coyotes just a stone’s throw from my door.

Bubs hasn’t always lived the good life. I met him when I was volunteering at a no-kill shelter in Utah. He’d been there for over two years when I came into the picture.

No one knew his story. He showed up one morning, left on the floor of the cat room, in a feral trap. He, clearly, had been part of a feral catch and release community. His ear was “docked” (cut partly off that is) as a mark that he’d been trapped, neutered, and returned to the colony. I can’t even begin to imagine his fear at such treatment. Bubby is a very sensitive, tender-hearted man. To be lured into a trap with the scent of a wonderful meal, only to have the cage door slam shut, trapping him (which is probably why he won’t use the cat door), then to be yanked out and cut, both his ear and his testicles, and returned to the desert to heal… or not. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in such managed feral colonies. It is the most humane way to deal with a terrible problem.

I just know my man and I know the experience was traumatic for him. In fact, just before I left Utah the vet said he had a tumor in that ear that had to be dealt with. We moved to New Mexico and I spent some time with him, stroking that ear and telling him I understood his fear and trauma. I told him he was safe now and could let it go. When I took him to the new vet there was no tumor.

By the time he came to the shelter, although he was in a feral trap, he was tame. Clearly, someone had worked with him and tamed him. He didn’t love human contact but he certainly wasn’t wild anymore.

Now that he lives with me I know how he was tamed. He adores what I call his “kibble loves.” That is, he goes to his kibble bowl and waits for me to come pet him. When I do, he eats and purrs his lips off. I know this is because someone had patiently worked with him, offering him food and then gradually touching him and petting him. This is precisely how I’ve worked with and tamed feral cats. I don’t know what happened to that person or how Bubba was separated from them. But he came to the shelter essentially tamed and likely deeply missing the person who tamed him.

So Bubba took up residence in a small kitty tent on the windowsill of the only window there was in the shelter, looking out on the parking lot. He stayed in his private space, looking out at “life” for over two years. No one really knew he was there, so he never got adopted.

But, after awhile, when I would come into the kitty room, he’d meow at me—more of a low, guttural yowl, truth be told—a bit like a Siamese meow–Bubba’s idea of being charming (Bubba, in fact, has many voices he uses depending on the situation. I particularly love it when his mouth forms a meow, but no sound comes out. He uses that when he’s being particularly plaintive). Anyway, he loved the kitty krunchies I always brought and wanted to be sure he got his share.

So I noticed this big lug up there on the windowsill, looking out. We developed a relationship formed around krunchies. And I got to thinking that his laid back personality might just work to fill a terrible gap in my little cat family at home. I had recently lost a big, gentle tom cat named Arroyo and my younger kitten was pining for him. I thought adopting Bubba might help us and him at the same time. So Bubba came home with me.

The shelter sent his little tent with him, thinking he’d want it. But the minute he came into the house he never went into that tent again. He ranged all over the place, including the back yard which was coyote safe.

It took awhile to learn how to touch him without getting scratched, but we’ve worked together over the years and I can even pick him up now.

He adores his wanderings outside, his spot on my desk when I’m working, laps when I’m watching a movie and, of course, his kibble loves and dust ups outside. I don’t love the ring of dirt he always leaves on my bed but it is a small price to pay to get to live with this character of a cat–this sensitive soul who has worked hard to fit–who has risen above fear, confusion and loss in order to live a good life. I believe there just may be some lessons for all of us in that.

Oh, and he still loves looking out the window…

Rest in peace dear boy.

Love to you all,