Farewell, Buddhacat

When you get a kitten from the shelter, the animal’s date of birth is usually a best guess from the staff or the vet who examined the beast. There are exceptions, but unless someone witnessed the whelping, it’s an approximation.

Today is—we think—Decaf’s 4th birthday. We first encountered him at a pet supply store just before Valentine’s Day 2018, when he was a seven-month black kitten.

On his first night with us, Decaf almost escaped through an open front door. (Turns out he was hiding under the bed.) Eventually, he bonded to us and the house, and became quite a fixture in the neighborhood. He liked to walk us down to the corner, or around the block, doing his ninja routine behind parked cars and bushes.

At night, he often brought us offerings of gardening gloves (sorry, neighbors) and flowers, rather than dead animals, thus earning his nickname of Buddhacat.

A few days after July 4 this year (with all the fucking explosions), Decaf took a lot of long, quiet naps. Normally, he spent the evenings on the couch, and his days in or near my office chair. But this seemed a bit different. On July 10, Decaf went out after dinner and did not return for breakfast. His best friend, Chai (our newest adopted kitten) prowled the house looking for him, then disappeared into the neighborhood.

Chai came home late but Decaf did not.

He missed dinner the next day. And the next.

We put up posters and filed reports with the local animal shelters and neighborhood websites. Someone called me to say they’d seen him, but it was a hard moment when I realized the caller was talking about our other black cat, Chai. (Chai wears a blue collar. Decaf’s is red.)

As much as I hate to admit it, the great glove thief is probably gone. Someone evil might have taken him. He might have left us to die in solitude, as cats are wont to do. We don’t know. And that hurts. I would have liked to have added his ashes to the yard he loved so much.

Farewell, Decaf. You weren’t with us for very long, and we will miss you. Even the early morning wake-up calls and weapons-grade farts.

May you find your way to the Pure Lands.

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