September 7th, 2012


By now, you've probably seen elsewhere that fuzzbucket_cat passed away last night. He was sixteen years old, as nearly as we can tell, since we adopted him as a feral kitten from a litter that one of the customers at the bank had caught and was looking for good homes for.

daisy_knotwise wanted a cat with a big plumy tail and Fuzzbucket had that in spades. Except he wasn't so much our cat then: he imprinted on Sasha, Gretchen's mother's (Victoria's) dog. He would follow the dog anywhere, even when he was getting whacked in the face by her wagging tail. Because Sasha was devoted to Victoria, Fuzzbucket tolerated her. The rest of us, he pretty much avoided when possible.

Fuzzbucket liked to go outside and we weren't going to stop him. We'd had him front-foot declawed for the sake of Smudge, my increasingly elderly cat who was similarly equipped. This somehow did not stop him from getting to the top of the recently-planted pin oak in the back yard. (Gretchen: "Look out your window." Bill, looking out the upstairs window at something swaying desperately back and forth at the top of tree: "What's that?" Gretchen: "It's Fuzzbucket." Bill: "You've got to be kidding. How'd he do that?" Sheer rugged determination, I guess.)

After Sasha and then Victoria died in the space of four days, we wondered if we'd see him again after the next time we let him out. But he came back. And not too much later, Gretchen woke to see him sleeping warily at the foot of our bed, although he fled immediately when he saw that she'd noticed him.

One night, Gretchen went out to pick up the pizza for dinner. When she came in from the garage, I warned her, "Don't drop the pizza." Fuzz had hopped up into my lap as I sat in the recliner chair and was getting well-petted for the first time in a long time. We concluded that I was the most dog-like thing in the house, so I was now the object of his affection. But he fairly quickly learned to love Gretchen too. And later, he was very fond of catalana who was his favorite lap whenever she came to visit.

His life was fairly settled for the next six years until Katie and then Julie arrived on the scene. Much time was spent teaching them to treat the poor cat well. In the last year or so of his life, he'd -- cautiously! -- let the girls pet him.

As he got older, he went out less and less, which wasn't a surprise. And he was always a very dog-like cat, having been well trained by Sasha to beg for food (which he frequently would fail to eat) and to drink out of the toilet bowl (which he would do quite often, as the water was always nice and cold).

Fuzz slept with us every night until the day about a month ago that he peed on the bed twice in one day, the second time when I had crawled out of bed at 2 AM to eat leftover pizza which I had refused to share with him. I took him to the vet for a check up. He had lost about three pounds in the last year and was less than half of what he'd weighed when he was a healthy youngster. We gave him a course of antibiotics and he perked up a bit, but he was now permanently exiled from all of the bedrooms, because we were running out of mattress pads. (And when he did get access to the girls' bedroom a few times, we got to do another round of laundry.)

He didn't look at all well when we got back from Worldcon.

Thursday night, he lay down in front of the warm oven where Gretchen was making dinner. I scratched his head a bit, but he was just very tired. Later that evening, Gretchen went down to sit with him while I put Katie to bed. He climbed up on the couch and let her rub his head for a while, then hopped down and walked off to lie down.

And this morning, he didn't get up.

I will miss him.