Tribute to a Cat

BugMany of my friends already know we had to put Cuddle Bug down last week. Last year, we lost Belle, which was hard enough, but Bug was my baby. She was the runt of Belle’s only litter, born in this house, and the only one in the litter that would seek me out.

Belle delivered her litter in a box in the guest room, but as the kittens grew and got more adventurous, we moved them to the laundry room. Which was great, except when I needed to do laundry. Then, all six of them would escape and explore the house, from texture of the furniture to the tufted curtain tops. Except for Bug. She’d want to be wherever I was. I still remember her scrambling up the upholstery of my recliner to rest in my lap. Even then, she was still so tiny, she’d fit in one hand. The others were much bigger.

When it came time to give the kittens away, I announced that Bug was mine, and though it would mean we’d have three cats (we had Tom too at that time), I was not giving that one up.

She remained loyal to me for the next eleven years. It was a peculiar kind of loyalty. For reasons of her own, she was scared of my husband. He’d never done anything to her, she had no obvious reason to be afraid, but during those eleven years, she’d rarely allow him to even pet her. She was quiet, too, compared to all the other cats–especially PB, the rescue kitty we obtained after Tom died. I wasn’t sure Bug could say anything more than the occasional “meh.”

Bug never was much of an outdoor cat. Didn’t like to get her feet dirty. If I sent her outside with the rest of our felines, she’d dart up the tree and sit on the roof until she could come back inside. Bad weather had her hanging from the top of the screen door, look of sheer terror in her eyes. These were the few times she found her voice, and the rare time we could translate Cat into English: Let me in!

Things began to change during the three-year stretch that I was frequently in the hospital. Having no other human to scratch her ears, she began to trust the man of the house. And later, during my long stay taking care of Mom, she began to sit on his lap. But only if I wasn’t home. When I was home, MSB didn’t exist. Finally, after one of my particularly long periods in the hospital, the time came when Bug would look for him, arch under his hand, weave around his legs, but it took around a dozen years.

None of the cats ever warmed up to the scratching post no matter what I did to convince them, so for several years, we lived with shredded furniture. Eventually, I got to buy new. After a few times of our indoor/outdoor cats bringing in fleas despite the flea medicine, I decided it was time to turn them into indoor-only cats. According to the Vet, Bug had a kidney condition, so she was the only one who got to keep her claws. Always docile, always deferring to the other cats, she suddenly became the only one with a weapon. Dynamics changed. She usurped PB as second-in-command to Belle (Belle was boss. Even without claws, she could pretty much slap the other cats across the room. With Bug especially, Belle was all “I brought you into this world, I can take you out”). Between the two of them, they really did a number on PB. She’s still trying to figure out her position in the family–different now, since she’s the only remaining cat.

Bug stayed quiet until she was around seventeen years old. One day, I heard her singing in the kitchen, head up, tail flicking, just yodeling away. The older she got, the more demanding she became, and the more she used that newly discovered voice.

After what I went through last year with Belle, realizing too late that I should’ve taken her to the vet to be relieved from her pain much earlier, I kept a close eye on Bug. I took her in right after losing Belle, because at the time, she was only a year younger. Dr. Lott discovered she had a thyroid condition, which I managed for an entire year with special food and raw venison. But within the past two weeks, she boycotted her food–even her beloved venison. She wanted what PB ate. I arrived at the point when I didn’t know what was worse–let her starve, or feed her food that was bad for her. I thought I’d allow her to eat regular cat food and re-introduce the special stuff to her, but in a couple of days, she tired of the regular food too. All she would eat was kitty treats. Since she’d lost weight, I figured that couldn’t hurt. But then I noticed how much water she drank. A lot of water for a cat. That scared me even more than the hunger strike.

Dr. Lott said only two things caused a cat to drink that much water–diabetes and kidney failure. Bug didn’t have diabetes.

I miss both my girls. I miss Tom, and he’s been gone for a while now. We’re trying to get PB to understand her place in the family now, keep her from shying away from the kitchen–apparently Belle and Bug told her it was off limits unless she could go in alone. I’m trying to teach her that she is no longer to take her meals in the living room, that the bowl on the fireplace mantle is no longer there.

She’s an odd little girl, but we love her. We just have to undo the damage done by the big cats. Still, I miss my big cats.

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
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14 Responses to Tribute to a Cat

  1. anemulligan says:

    I loved reading that, Linda. Our pets have a large place in our hearts and lives. Will you get any more kittens?


  2. Hugs, Linda! I’m a dog person but cats can be pretty sweet, too. They really do snuggle into our hearts and leave lots of sweet memories along with the holes. I enjoyed reading about Cuddle Bug.


  3. hopeclark says:

    So sorry, Linda. It sounds like yours lived to ripe old ages, thanks to good care and loads of loving from you. The house is quieter, the routines different, but you are still fuller because of their lives intertwining with yours. Enjoy the happy memories and cry the tears, but feel good knowing they are happy and watching.


  4. pamelameyers says:

    Both my Siamese died of kidney disease. After the first passed, I determined to keep an eye on the second and catch it in time, but it didn’t work. The vet told me that cats mask very well how lousy they are feeling until the illness overtakes them. With my two one-year-olds now I’m giving them a half can of wet food (Fancy Feast size) each morning, hoping that it helps with the kidneys, as dry food only sometimes contributes to that.

    My Siamese were declawed, but after realizing what the surgery entails, these two are not declawed. I fought it at first because all the rescue shelters around here are adamant about not declawing the cats who are adopted. They convinced me it was the right thing to not declaw. Jack is very good at usinging the scratchers only. Meg is an independant “woman” and no one is going to tell her what to do. She uses the scratchers but also other things and no matter how much I yell, discipline or whatever she does as she pleases. It gives me a good idea of how God must feel when we are willful and disobedient.

    So sorry Linda for your loss. Do you still have other cats?


    • Yes, Dr. Lott told me when we put Belle down how very well cats hide their symptoms. Bug wasn’t as bad as Belle was, but it was definitely time. PB, our third cat, is still just a teenager, so we won’t have to deal with this again for a while, I hope.


  5. K.M. Weiland says:

    I’ve been thinking about you and Cuddle Bug all week. Very sad. 😦 My cats always live outdoors and between the highway, the owls, the coyotes (and sometimes the neighbor), they don’t last too long. But it’s always sad to say goodbye. I can’t imagine how sad it would be after being with the same cat for so long.


    • We have the same dangers around our house, which is why I preferred to make them indoor rather than outdoor pets. The story goes like this:

      Not long after one of the hurricanes came through, we found a rooster at the back door. No clue where he came from, but he adopted us and became “ours.” I named him Strut. We got a huge kick out of that bird, despite his crowing at ungodly hours. We got to keep him for a while, and I developed an affection for him. Then, one day, a hawk swooped down and got him right in front of us.

      Strut was heavier than Belle, Bug, and even PB at the time, which scared me. If that bird could carry away a full-grown rooster, it could do the same with one of the cats. So I was left with the decision of declawing them and making them indoor cats, or leaving them outside to face the wilds. By this time, we’d already lost Tom–my favorite of all cats at all times in my life–to some unknown malady, and I was too raw to allow them to remain outdoor cats.

      Of course, I discovered a variety of reasons why my parents never allowed pets in the house, particularly when they were sick, but Belle and Bug both were deeply loved, and both got to live to be 20. Tom, was 7, I think, when he died.

      So, there it is. Long answer to your sweet comment. Maybe if I’d had more outdoor pets when I was growing up, it wouldn’t have rattled me so when Tom died and Strut was carried off. Who knows?


  6. Debbie Clark says:

    Linda, I oh so understand how you feel. We had three cats and a dog and were quite happy. First our dog (a lab mix) got cancer in 2002 and we had to put her down. We got another lab and had her until 2013. We lost our first cat Sasha in January 2006 and then the next month I was diagnosed with cancer. In April 2007, when I had just one more month to go of chemo and then I was finished, we lost Shadow. In 2010 I was in the hospital for 33 days and my last kittie Nattie, who was my special kitty had a real rough time of it. The first day that I came home from the hospital she would not even come near me. That night on the hospital bed, she came up to me and gave such a wail that my heart broke. She was ok after that, but not healthy. We struggled with her health as I was struggling to get back my health. We finally had her put down in April 2011. We went with out kitties for awhile and then I ended up with a rescue cat that someone did not have room for, we were foster parents for an orange tiger kitty for 5 months and then 2 months later we got our second cat Sonic. We are happy now. I still miss Nattie the most. She was my lap cat and slept beside me every night since we got her as a 5 week old kittien.

    I am so glad that God gave us our kitties and puppies. What would we do without them. My heart goes out to you as you grieve for your little Bug.


    • Aw, your story just rips my heart out! I don’t know if I could handle so many losses in such a short period of time. I hope you’re well now, and I hope your pets will be with you for a long time.

      I too am glad God gave us pets. It hurts to lose them only because they bring such love and joy while they’re with us. I think God knew we would need them.


  7. Pearl R. Meaker says:

    So very sorry to hear about you losing Cuddle Bug. I’ve had cats for many years and have gone through their passing many times. It always hurts.

    You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.


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