Tom and Buster

Several years ago, I had two cats; an orange and white tabby named Tom, and a breed I'm not sure of named Buster.

Tom was adopted from a pet clinic and needed to be declawed on all four paws as well as neutered because his hind paws had deformed claws, one of which was growing back into itself. Other than that, he was perfectly healthy.

I remember Dad building a scratching post from some scrap wood and carpet left over from remodeling. Tom loved it! He would tear through the house at top speed, over the back of the couch and up the scratching post onto the platform on top. He would dig in and hang on while the post rocked back and forth from the sudden stop. The scratching post had a three foot plywood base, which usually didn't allow it to tip over, but I think he managed to tip it over once or twice. He would have this crazed, maniacal look in his eyes, like he was ready to kill something, while he was on top of the post.

As Tom got older, he slowed down, way down. I honestly considered renaming him Garfield! He sure fit the bill. His favorite activity was finding a patch of sun and sleeping in it.

About the time Tom was an old cat, a stray showed up at my house and begged for attention. I'm not sure what breed he was to this day. White with patches of black and grey tabby is the best I can do to describe him. He would meet me as I was about to catch the bus for school. My heart ached when I had to leave him to get on the bus because we lived on a fairly busy street and stray cats usually lived very short lives as a result. I couldn't bear to let him live a risky life of dodging cars, so I begged Mom and Dad to let me keep him. So, we had a meet and greet session with Tom and both seemed to tolerate each other pretty well. Tom was too old to put up a fight and the stray, which we named Buster, just wanted attention and someone or something to play with.

Buster turned out to have some kind of digestive problem, causing him to eat like it was his last meal and then vomit most of it back up in a tube of half chewed food. We never figured out why, we just cleaned it up when he did it, hoping he would realize that we would not let the bowl get empty.

Buster loved me with all his kitty heart. Tom was mostly Mom's cat, even though he he was a gift to me. Cats choose their favorite person whether the person likes it or not. Buster and Tom got along okay at best. I can imagine Tom thinking "That blasted whipper snapper! Always running by and whacking me on the head while I'm trying to nap!" That is exactly what Buster did too! It was funny watching them chase after eachother, and it was nice to see Tom do something besides sleep for a change.

Tom's favorite toys were a small burlap bag stuffed with catnip, any piece of string, or a finger wiggling underneath a blanket. Buster's favorite toy was an ice cube on the linoleum floor, he would bat it around and it slid across the floor like a hockey puck. Every time we got into the freezer and cracked the ice loose from the ice tray, he would come running!

Tom's favorite treat was chicken, he even learned the word and would come into the kitchen meowing at us when we mentioned it. When Mom would cook chicken, he would be in the kitchen yowling at her. Sometimes he would howl - I'm not kidding! Imagine a cat meowing at top volume, for five seconds at a time, that's each meow was 3 to 5 seconds long! If any cat was capable of howling, it was Tom, and he howled for chicken!

Buster wasn't too particular about what he ate, as nine times out of ten, it would come right back up anyway. Like I stated earlier, we never figured out what caused him to do this. We wish we could have cured him of it. I worried about him actually getting nurishment from what he ate, and cleaning up after him really got old quickly.

Buster lived to be about seven years old. None of us know how he died. Dad just found him lying in the bedroom still. I thought the Christmas Cactus Mom had in the kitchen was poisonous to cats, but later learned it was not. Maybe his digestive problem finally caught up to him. We will never know. Tom lived to be older than the dirt he walked on. I lost count after 12 years. I think he might have reached 16 to 18, I'm not sure. We had to have him euthanized because he was very ill and began to have blood in his urine. It was sad, but it was also the humane thing to do. He was deaf, was afraid to jump presumably because of joint pain or arthritis, and he did little more than sleep all day and night. He had little interest in playing and he was just downright frail looking. He lived a very long, full life.