Let me tell you a little about Buffy, our oldest cat. For starters, yes, she's named after the famed vampire slayer (we jokingly called her "Buffy the Canine Slayer"), albeit the movie version, as when we got her, the Buffy film was out, but not yet the more famous and successful TV series. It also says a lot about us that we prefer the film to the show. Anyway.
This was around 1993 in Mississippi. Our neighbors across the street, the Walkers, asked me to look after their house while they were away. This included feeding their pets, and these included a little fluffy kitten whom the oldest of the Walker children had found the very, very young, apparently abandoned kitten living near where they got their car tuned up, and, after discovering that the kitten was apparently the sole survivor of her litter (with even the mother having succumbed to the elements) decided to adopt her. She was a very energetic little booger and I had fun taking care of her.
After they returned from their trip, Dr. Walker decided to give us the kitten, and we took her and named her Buffy for the reason above. She was our first cat. The first of many. The number has fluctuated over the years, with us having as many as nine as my mother become increasingly more and more fond of the little fuckers, but one constant was Buffy. She was our first and she was one of our favorites. Other cats came and went but Buffy always remained.
She lived up to her namesake, as she was a terror at the vet. She would fight and claw at them regardless of what they wanted to do to her, and consequently needed to be sedated for damn near every vet visit. It was amusing having the meanest cat in the neighborhood. At home, Buffy was different. While she tended to get into tons of hissy fits and fights with other cats, especially Oskar, who we acquired from a mall pet store, Buffy was affectionate and loving towards us humans. In particular, she seemed to prefer me, apparently because I'd taken care of her as a kitten.
When we moved to North Carolina in 2000, we had to leave some of the cats behind. Buffy was one of the ones we chose to come with us. Upon arriving and finding the new house, the one I still currently live in, was too small for even the small group we'd brought with us, we had to give two, Simba and Scooter, to a local farm owned by some people my Papa knew. Years later, my mom regretted this, and we visited the farm, to discover it had been burned down and abandoned in the eight or so years since, and Simba and Scooter were MIA. But this journal isn't about them. Their fates are up in the air. Buffy's isn't.
Buffy, though, stayed with us in 2000, and joined us in our new home. She continued being nominally my cat, sleeping in my bed with me. We had also gotten a few more female cats, who got pregnant from some stray toms, and we found ourselves swamped in kitten. Some we gave away. Others we kept. Our cat ranks have now swelled. However it was around the middle of this decade that I began developing my inexplicable germaphobia. And to tire of the cats constantly knocking stuff over in my room. As a consequence, I banned all of the cats, including Buffy, from my room sometime in 2004 or maybe the year before. Buffy grew away from me and gravitated towards my sister.
Like my mom with Scooter and Simba, I regret this, in light of recent revelations. When my sister moved out to live on her own with her second husband, to lessen the kitty ranks we gave her two of them. One of them was Buffy. Her constant fights with Oskar were making lots of racket and so we just opted to separate the two. Since then, Buffy has lived fairly happily with my sister, being her usual terrifying self at the vet and all loving and snuggly at home. Even then she was quite old for a cat, so we all knew that out of our remaining cats, she was the one who was most likely to leave this mortal coil first. But even being aware of someone or something's mortality doesn't prepare you for it when it finally happens.
Buffy is dying. When my sister took her to the vet today, some blood tests revealed that her kidneys are failing. The vet says she has a few months left at most. My sister says that it's a painless death, so she refuses to have Buffy put to sleep, and instead is going to simply keep her at home and continue to care for her and love her until the day she is finally taken from us, likely sometime later this year. To say the least, we're a bit upset over this, given she was our very first cat.
I do know one thing for certain. I'm going to visit my sister's house sometime soon and pay a final visit to Buffy, if only so I can pet the cat I took care of as a kitten one last time before she dies. I'll miss her.