“In the beginning,
God created Man,
But seeing him so feeble,
He gave him the Cat.”
It was a most difficult time in my life, and I had spent much of it in a depressed fog. I was divorced, miserably living alone in a tiny basement apartment, and my beloved dog, Pepper, had just died of cancer.
This extremely affectionate and extremely loyal little Schnauzer had faithfully stuck with me after my divorce; and she had literally saved my life more than once. But now, she too was gone; and my life, at the moment, was horrendous.
Little did I know that my life would soon change in a most dramatic way; little did I know that a truly miraculous little angel was about to arrive.
About six miserable weeks after Pepper’s death, I awoke at 5 AM to the sound of muffled crying coming from my backyard. As I listened intently, this crying became louder and more intense. It almost sounded like a forlorn human infant crying.
I nervously got out of bed, raced to the back window, and peered out. It wasn’t dawn yet, and I couldn’t see a thing. But I still heard those very plaintive cries. So I quickly got dressed and raced out into the yard. I had to know what was out there; I just had to. And I couldn’t believe what I eventually found.
As the early morning mist began to evaporate, I eventually spotted an extremely tiny orange and white kitten sprawled out in the muddy dirt, and it was crying its furry little head off. It also looked completely forlorn and pathetic.
It was covered in long tangled burrs from head to tail; its fur was badly matted; and it looked like it hadn’t eaten in quite some time. It was also lying face down in the dirt, directly on top of my sweet Pepper’s sad backyard grave. And, it didn’t seem too inclined to move.
As I rushed up to reach down and pick it up, this forlorn creature suddenly jumped up, looked at me with renewed energy in its emaciated feline eyes, and very quickly bolted into my apartment through the back door I had left ajar.
I now raced back inside myself, and I soon found this exhausted, starving, newborn feline fast asleep on my sofa, very contentedly curled up in the same woolen blanket that my faithful old dog had loved so much.
I vividly remember standing there completely transfixed that chilly autumn morning, staring wide-eyed at this now slumbering street urchin. I didn’t have the heart to wake it up or to shoo it back outside with the rest of the many alley cats very sadly inhabiting the mean streets and back alleys of America’s big cities.
This life-altering early morning feline encounter occurred more than 20 years ago now, and this adorable orange and white furball never left my side for the next 20 wonderful years.
This forlorn orphan who had come in from the cold very quickly taught me how to live, and to laugh, and to love again. He also taught me so much about compassion and loyalty, and I will be forever in his debt.
I named this little matted furball ‘Buddy’ that miraculous morning some 20 years past, and he truly was my best buddy for all of that lengthy time. And for 20 long years, I never fell asleep without hearing his very soothing and very melodious purrs on my pillow.
I will never know how Buddy managed to appear on Pepper’s backyard grave that chilly fall morning, and I guess that I’ll never know. I also can’t decide who or what placed him there that morning for me to find. But, I am truly grateful.
I also go back and forth in my theories concerning Buddy’s origin every time I gaze in marvel at his many pictures these days. Sometimes, I think that God took pity on me, and He placed this tiny kitten on Pepper’s grave for me to find.
Sometimes, I think that one of the wise old alley cats carried this starving little orphan out there from some deep dark shed or abandoned building, knowing that I would take care of it. I searched the entire neighborhood that miraculous day of discovery, but I never found his mother or any other newborn kittens in the vicinity.
Sometimes, I even convince myself that loyal old Pepper herself somehow sensed my utter despair at her passing, and she somehow miraculously transformed herself into this cat, and that she somehow magically re-appeared at my back door.
I know this last theory of mine is probably the most implausible, yet it’s still my favorite.
Over the next 20 wonderful years, I definitely become more and more of a ‘cat’ person because of this one particular cat, and I am constantly in awe of the extreme loyalty and affection that felines, as well as canines, can provide us human beings.
I am also constantly in awe at the similarities in behavior between Buddy and my wonderful old dog, Pepper. To me, it’s truly amazing, and truly wonderful.
Over the course of the next 20 years, I very happily re-married, and my new animal loving spouse very quickly fell in love with my miraculous, life-altering, Buddy, as well.
And because of Buddy, my wife and I have taken in numerous abandoned and forlorn cats and dogs over the years - from animal shelters, from city pounds, and from the mean city streets.
Our extremely lovable Buddy always quickly befriended each and every one of them, and it was because of my Buddy that I eventually found myself volunteering for America’s massive pet rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
We now have a very loving home, filled with many extremely loving and affectionate dogs and cats, three of them from the devastated Gulf Coast.
We very sadly lost our miraculous little Buddy to old age last year. It finally crept up on him, as it does to us all. But every second of every day that we got to spend with him over the past 20 years was truly a marvelous experience, and truly a wondrous learning experience, for both myself and my wife.
As our wonderful, loyal, extremely affectionate Buddy lay dying on our bed, each and every one of our many cats and dogs solemnly visited him to say their good-byes; to kiss and snuggle with him one last time; and to soulfully mourn his great loss.
Everyone in our large household will miss this most wondrous cat for a very long time to come, but because of my Buddy, I actually now believe that lost loved ones can find their way home again, even after death - if only in our hearts and souls.
Thank you, Buddy.
You were definitely a god-send, in my greatest hour of need.
©2008, Mr. Ed
An Excerpt From Curious Creatures-Wondrous Waifs, My Life With Animals