My cat, named after an anime sumo wrestler character in honor of the Asian influence of the Arts & Crafts Movement on the bungalow & his chunk-ster legs (the largest kitten in his litter) – my little Bukhai Thunder, AKA Bukhai Bunny-Bear, came to me as a fluffy, trembling ball. He was from a litter of 8. He & his littermates & mama had been rescued from a dumpster. Same old story- full of fleas & starving. Mama was an elegant & proud mother but the kittens had developed poorly nourished & were having a rough time.
I found him in a store-front shelter in the bungalow neighborhood of Eagle Rock where a sainted woman paid some huge amount of rent to display cats for adoption, which she cared for on her ranch. She bundled everybody in the morning & drove them in to town & found homes for them & then took the still unadopted ones home with her at night.
She truly gave St. Francis a run for his money in the sainthood department. My kitty who had preceded Bukhai, Pouella, was easily offended, fierce & strong. My vet was terrified of her. She had very fine long hair & I struggled keeping the mats off her. So, I asked the woman if she would groom her for me for a donation (a hefty one. I knew what I was asking.) I dropped her off at the storefront & returned when I received the call that she was ready. Pouella looked amazing, but I noticed that she had spots of blood on her. I was quite alarmed at this thinking that Pou had been wounded & mentioned it to the groomer who then showed me her extremely clawed hands & arms. It was the groomer’s blood, that she had willingly shed to make my kitty fluffy. Her halo shone with a glow that was almost blinding.
I brought Bukhai home to the Hare House. The poor babe was afraid of everything. I opened the carrier & he scooted into the fireplace in the Reverend Hare’s little study & cowered under the grate, shaking. I made him a snug retreat there with a little soft bed where he could burrow, a tiny litter box & that’s where he was fed. Every day I scooped him out & stuffed him down my shirt & sat with him all covered up for a couple hours, petting him gently through the fabric & talking softly. Then I put him back in the fireplace.
After 3 weeks, he ventured cautiously out on his own & settled down to life at the Hare House. Mahjong the Amazing Wonder Kitten had started life as a fully gorgeous 2 lb., blue-eyed kitty who just blossomed into an elegant, luxurious cat but Bukhai took a long time to grow into himself. His big eyes were beautiful as he gazed at me in adoration, but his ears were far too large & he had a tuft of fur that stuck up like a cowlick over one of them. (You can see it here!)
When he hit adolescence, his fur became very oily & dandruffy & stuck to his body, making those too large ears seem even bigger & the funny tuft even more prominent. But as he became an adult, he too became a handsome animal. His snow white fur trimmed with grey & black stripes became fluffy & the ears stopped growing so the body could catch up. His feet remained rather large & floppy for his size, but we decided that it was an endearing feature that made my little boy all the sweeter.
Bukhai was never very brave. Or even a little bit brave. Mahjong loved to go out into the garden & play jungle cat. He lurked & pounced & was difficult to coax back inside. Bukhai, on the other hand, preferred to stay on the porch, close to the door, but after a couple months, started getting relaxed about being out in the big world. Until the neighbor across the street started sweeping said street with a metal rake. Scritch, scritch. Bukhai flew to the closed door & ran up the screen where he clung until Daddy peeled him off, claw by claw, & tucked him back safely in the house from where he never again emerged.
When Buk was fully grown, my assistant brought over the new kitten she had adopted from the storefront. Kitten bounced out of the carrier, curious & ready to play. Bukhai ran to the door which I had closed to contain the new kitten, & turned, peering over his shoulder clearly terrified by the tiny bit of fluff squeaking & hopping about the room, his eyes as wide as saucers looking at this monster that we had allowed in his safe home. Mommy quickly came to his rescue & soothed him with a nice, long chin rub. Mahjong considered the new arrival to be but an hors d’oeurve but to Buk, the interloper was a monster straight out of a kitty nightmare.
Bukhai was the most loving cat I have ever known. He adored his mommy & loved to sit with me, gazing into my eyes while I petted him & spoke to him softly. We were besotted with one another. Unlike Mahj who wanted to kiss every girl at the party, Bukhai was fearful of all of my friends but three- my sister-in-law who is a friend to all animals, Helen, a neighbor, whom he recognized as a gentle soul & Theresa, another cat saint who visited & comforted him in his last unhappy weeks.
He’s in Heaven now, being the same angel-kitty he was here on earth.
IN MEMORIUM, A NEW CAT FRIEND IN THE BUNGALOW
When Bukhai was about 8, a new kitten, Miss Tiddleywinks was brought home. I kept them apart because she was so dang loud & so active. Bukhai was clearly worried. When she was about ¾ grown, she decided that she lo-o-o-oved her daddy, didn’t like me at all (referring to me disdainfully as, “That lady,” wounding me at every opportunity) & took Bukhai under her wing. She licked him, she cuddled him & talked to him like she was his mama. Bukhai blossomed under her care. He had not been a boy who found much joy in life but gradually over the months, his eyes became brighter, his step more lively & he became a happy cat.
This animal who considered me a rival for my husband’s affection, bloodied me & several of my friends (who had responded to my warnings with, “Oh, I’m a cat person. It will be fine.”) more than once, pee’d on the furniture & pooped on the rug, was a saint & will ever be so regarded in my heart.
Moral of the story #1- Adopt a kitty, or 2, or 3. They will enrich your life.
Moral #2- Spay & neuter your pets.
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