Celebrating Bubby’s gotcha day

Four years and one day ago, Meg forwarded me an email she received as a volunteer cat foster. It was titled “last chance for Bubby” and it included a picture of a big-eyed black cat looking over someone’s shoulder.

Bubby was 14, diabetic, and dropped off because his owners “could not afford to keep the cat with the government shut down and the need to also feed their kids.”

Meg’s reasoning was that I already had one diabetic cat, so how much harder could it be to care for two diabetic cats while looking for a home for Bubby? There was not much time to think it over because he was down to his last day in the shelter.

So… four years ago today, we drove over to Orange County Animal Shelter and signed a few things and bundled a very friendly black cat into a carrier and drove him home.

I should note when I met Meg I had a totally reasonable total of two cats. Then, after a while, it became three when we foster failed on Willow (another story) and then Willow needed to relocate to my house because Meg’s two adult cats didn’t get along with her.

In theory I was going to foster Bubby temporarily. In theory. In reality I knew by the time I sprung Bub from the carrier at my house that he wasn’t going anywhere.

That never changed. I’ve never met a cat I didn’t like, but I had an instant bond with Bubby and couldn’t imagine trying to re-home him. So I didn’t.

He was a little raggedy when I got him, underfed and his diabetes wasn’t well-controlled. His collar was too tight and chafing his neck, so we got rid of that right away.

He was about 13.5 lbs when he arrived, he’s hovering around 16 lbs now. His diabetes is still tough to keep a handle on, so we test him twice a day to make sure we don’t put him into hypoglycemia. He’s been really low a few times, and it’s been scary, but we’ve pretty much got it down now.

He’s something like 18 years old now, and a little shaky at times. In addition to diabetes he seems to have arthritis and gets gabapentin three times a day. Also gets half a pill a day for his thyroid levels, which seem to be fine now. Like any cat, he doesn’t love to be pilled and does his best McMurphy impression to cheek pills and spit them back out. I’ve had to get really good with the pill shooter.

He used to jump over the dog gate but stopped a bit more than a year ago. Now he just sits on one side of the gate and paws at it to let us know it’s time for us to open the door for him. The other cats squeeze through the bars but he’s too dignified for that.

He keeps prowling the house, singing the song of his people and looking for food and lap time. Bubby doesn’t so much meow as merp. This has led to an abundance of nicknames, including Mr. Merp, Bubby Merpington, Bubby Merps, in addition to Mr. B, B-Merps, Sir Merps-a-lot…

When he sings, it’s truly epic caterwauling – but he stops the very instant someone pops into his field of view, so it’s been difficult to capture. It’s like trying to get the Loch Ness Monster on video.

It’s kind of unclear if Bubby realizes he’s a cat and not a person. He figured out on day one how to slap the door handles and open doors when there’s a room he wants into. Mr. Merp has a schedule to keep, with breakfast at 7 a.m., naptime in the office or bedroom by 9 a.m., a snack at Noon, another nap, and by 4 p.m. he needs to find me and remind me that dinner should be soon. Then, he’d like to have a nice lap and chill out until 10 when he gets a tiny treat and then bedtime in Nora’s room where he has his own comfy bed.

Bubby had a small fanclub at Red Hat, and stickers. He has an epic bromance with Sir Wobbles, the two of them were basically instant friends when they met and have the only cross-household friendship in our Brady Bunch arrangement of cats. Sir seems to idolize Bubby, and Bub seems to adore his wobbly friend.

They say that cats don’t vocalize for other cats, but Sir Wobbles has taken up warbling just like Bubby when he has “killed” a puffy toy and he’s particularly proud. He had no history of doing that before meeting Bubby.

Bubby and Willow had a few scuffles early on, but that ended when Willow put a claw in his cheek and Bubby decided to respect her personal space. They’re friendly enough to share a lap as long as Bubby can temper his compulsion to try to groom any cat that comes near enough.

He’s a charming old guy, and we’re deeply lucky he crossed our path. I wasn’t looking for another cat when he showed up, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy gotcha day, Bubby Merps.

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