||Burton on the Bay
by Bill Burton
My furry companion is gone
Cats are the most mysterious and seductive animals in creation.
—Robert de Laoche and Jean Michele Labat:
The Secret Lives of Cats.
2-E fit that description to the proverbial T. She was mysterious in more than her ways, especially during her few hours daily when she retreated to her hideaway, which I was never to locate. Other than her private time at a nook somewhere in this house up here in North County, she was always underfoot, to be both seen and heard.
2-E was possibly the most vocal feline ever; Her meows were raucous and frequent; how they originated in a cat of barely five pounds beneath all that fur, I could never figure. Sometimes I tended to think that before she moved here a bit over three years ago, she was in a home inhabited by hearing-disabled owners.
2-E’s background was a mystery. She came from an animal shelter in Howard County, picked out by daughter Heather Boughey to succeed Frieda Lawrence Burton, a white shorthair who graced this house for 13 years. 2-E had no name, and her papers gave her age as one and a half years, which proved to be off by at least a decade.
This always puzzled me; I couldn’t fathom anyone giving up 2-E. If ever a creature could be both humble and regal, it was this cat, with her one blue eye and the other green and with a floating rib on her chest. Did she get lost to be picked up by animal control officers? Or did her previous owner pass away?
She must have been treated like a queen; she had only the best tastes in both lifestyle and her bowl. She expected to be pampered, and she wanted only the best in cat food; no dry niblets for her. I bought her moist premium Sheba, 75 or more tins at a time, and in great variety because not infrequently if I opened shrimp, she merely sniffed it and ordered whitefish in a complaint that could be heard in all 12 rooms of the house.
The same if breakfast wasn’t served at 5am and dinner at 5pm. I tried to exile her from the bedroom to get a bit more sleep, but before sunrise she cried from the other side of the door as she scratched on it. In late afternoon, it mattered not if I was writing on deadline. She appeared at my desk as noisy as in the morning. Time to eat; priorities first.
On mornings when I tumbled back to bed after feeding her, she returned after eating her fill to waken me for more than a few strokes around her ears. She craved attention.
There’s truth to the old saying that dogs have masters but cats are masters. But 2-E was worth it all. Whenever I read, or just sat, she stretched out on my lap, chin hanging over my right knee, fully expecting to be stroked and brushed. She was a companion who not only wanted attention, but gave it — except for that hour or two each day when she was nowhere to be found. Her private moments.
2-E never went outside other than to sit on my lap when I read the morning papers in the garden. On this side of the door was everything she wanted or needed. And what she wanted and needed, she made very evident.
My Friend’s Passing
This past Thursday night, she purred in her usual soft way when I brushed her and told her the brush caught enough hair to make another cat. Her hair was exceptionally long, and as often as it was brushed, it went every which way. Wife Lois often referred to her as having a bad-hair day.
2-E might have appeared scruffy, but in keeping with her sophisticated ways, she was a self-grooming machine. And whenever the door to the porch was opened, she ambled out to sharpen her claws on the piece of firewood I placed there as her scratching post. Then there would be a yowl to return inside — and why was I taking so long?
I feared something was wrong Good Friday morning when there was no wake-up breakfast call. 2-E was in the hall, and as usual, as she headed for the kitchen she would look back to make sure I was following. But there were no impatient meows, nor was there much eating, though I tried two different entrees.
By early afternoon, she was at Pasadena Animal Hospital. Old cats are fragile, and they seem to know when the time comes. I took her home, and in her last days, 2-E remained as always, a sophisticated cat, though her meows were subdued, as were my responses. She handled this thing better than I.
Consolations of Youth and Age
The loss of 2-E will also be felt deeply by granddaughter Grumpy (also known as Mackenzie Noelle Boughey), who only a week earlier lost her cat Hemingway to complications of old age.
What do you do when a three-year-old loses her pet?
I think Heather and husband Jon handled it nicely.
Grumpy was told Hemingway was going up to the sky to become a star. They bought a balloon with a big star on it, and Grumpy let the balloon go and watched it disappear in the sky. To her, that was Hem on his way to his new home.
Each night, she looks for the most prominent star and blows it a kiss. But sometimes she asks if Hemingway will ever come back again as a cat.
2-E was Grumpy’s cat-away-from-home, and she comes here almost daily, so now there will be another loss, another balloon and, soon, two stars up in the sky.
I envy the innocence of a three-year-old. My furry companion is gone, and I’m too old to believe she is that star next to Hemingway up there in the sky. But I’m confident that there will be solace as Grumpy and I blow kisses to the two stars.
Granddaughters, young as they might be, can teach an old dog new tricks, even though I ought to know that star called 2-E will never return as a cat.
My only hope is when my time comes, she will be with Frieda waiting for me at the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.