Buster has been with us for about 21 years, not always willingly. During his first nine years he lived next to Carkeek Park in Seattle. His back yard was an old growth forest, where he got to be a real cat, hunting birds and squirrels and being hunted by raccoons and coyotes. The next seven or eight years his universe contracted quite a bit. He was an indoor cat living on the fourth floor of a condo. The deck was his outdoors He didn't seem preturbed by this lose of space. He spent the bulk of his days laying in front of the fireplace, and he did have enough room to race about, usually about 4am.
The last and greatest shrinkage of his universe was when we moved aboard Grace. He lost well over 90% of the room he had in the condo. He did ok when we were in the marina, as he could get off the boat and roam about on his dock meeting people and other cats, but he HATED being underway. He learned our routine preparing the boat for a trip fairly quickly; the bustle of Judy stowing things safely away and my checking the engine water and oil levels we reliable clues of a bad day ahead, and when suspicions were confirmed by the start of our noisy rattling engine, off he with his sister Daisy would go, diving under covers in the V-berth where they would usually remain all day.
Now he no longer seems to care. Anchored, underway or tied up to a dock his days filled with sleeping and eating glide by seemlessly.
He has given up exploring when we get into a marina, old age finally stealing away his interest in the outside world. He does a walk about on deck several times a day, sniffs the air, but no longer wants off the boat. Thank goodness for this. We think he has cat-hiemers. When he gets out of sight of the boat he doesn't seem able to find his way aback. He was lost once for a week in a neighborhood next to Marina Vallarta, all the while not more then 200 or 300 yards away from the boat. We looked for him every night, finally finding him walking the breakwater.
His only excercise now-a-days is moving to a new place to sleep. He settles in for a time, then wakes, checks his food bowl, nibbles a bit, then finds another spot and falls back to sleep.
He is nothing but skin and bones, yet he eats a can of food every day. Considering what he consumes he should be a fatty. We were concerned about his weight and took him to a vet while in Puerto Vallarta. The vet was amazed at Busters good health and felt that his skinnyness was not an issue. I think being thin has helped with his longevity.
Buster is winding down however. He sometimes cannot jump up to the v-berth, three feet above the deck, ending up with claws dug into the mattress, struggling to pull himself up the rest of the way. When his sister Daisy had this problem we built her a carpeted ramp out of a stray 2x6. We can't do this for Buster 'cause there ain't no scrap 2x6's anywhere in Mexico, besides we don't want a large piece of timber on board that could fly around the cabin when things get wild. Daisy lasted about six months walking that plank every day until one day she fell off into the great abyss. My guess is Buster has about the same amount of time left, perhaps less as the stress of living in the heat down here was not an issue with Daisy.
When Buster goes we will miss him a lot. We couldn't replace him by filling his space with another cat, so it will be time for us to be free of pets for a while.
|He's not a real handsome fellow|