December 29th, 2008

Quill3

Another Farewell

Our year is drawing to a close on a sad note, as we bid goodbye to Bun-Butt today. In case you’ve forgotten, Bun-Butt was one of our cats. Her distinguishing characteristics included total deafness and the tiny nub that constituted her tail. She also had a wide rear end beneath her nub of a tail, which led us to begin calling her Bun-Butt. After we’d had her for some months, that seemed to be the name that stuck, so we went with it (although Brunswick was a close second, given to her because of her resemblance to a bowling ball).

She was always a problematic cat. When we first got her, she had dreadfully matted fur all around her back end, due to A) Her inability to reach back there to groom herself, and B) Her previous owner’s negligence and disinclination to take care of this potentially serious problem. CC took it upon herself to keep after BB’s grooming, and there was no recurrence of the matting issue in the two-and-a-half years she lived with us.

Bun-Butt also had frequent problems with Thinking Outside the Box. It wasn’t that she didn’t wish to be fastidious in her litter habits; her deposits were almost invariably near the box, if not always inside the box. It gradually became clear that the real problem was either that BB lacked the mobility to get inside, or that she was possibly in actual pain attempting such a maneuver. Evaluating pain in non-humans is always difficult, especially since the normal instinct for animals is to cover up such indications lest they identify themselves as potential prey.

In the past couple weeks, BB had gone sharply downhill in her mobility. We don’t know whether this was because of a specific recent injury, or whether she simply reached a tipping point in her gradual decline that she could no longer conceal. Her mobility and control of bodily functions suddenly became extremely limited, such that she was often leaking as she walked. And actually, I shouldn’t even use the word ‘walked’ – she was often dragging herself about by her front paws, with her nearly useless back legs flopping behind.

I will spare you the rest of the details. Suffice it to say that a couple of trips to the vet provided some improvement, but nowhere near enough. The vet offered a couple of interesting opinions – A) He thought BB was probably somewhat older than we’d been told, probably 8 or more years old; and B) He told us that rear-end troubles are very common in cats of Manx descent, stemming from the genetic flaws that tend to be reinforced by pure-bred inbreeding. One look at BB’s Siamese markings will tell you that she herself was no pure-bred, but she may have nevertheless inherited some bad genes in her bloodline.

While these notes on the hazards of inbreeding may be of academic interest, and maybe even of practical use in choosing future pets, I don’t suppose they matter anymore in Bun-Butt’s case. We can take some solace in the knowledge that these past 2+ years were probably the happiest of BB’s life, based on her condition when we acquired her. As much as Cy is my cat, Bun-Butt was very much CC’s cat, and CC was a fine caretaker. We know it is our fate as humans to generally outlive our pets, but this knowledge cannot prevent us from being sad today. She was a sweet kitty at heart and we will miss her.
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