buster, the closet kitty


Born behind a building in a trash can, probably dumped because of an unwanted pregnancy, never knowing a mother who cared enough to see him through, Buster had huge odds stacked against him for survival, let alone enjoying life. Little by little, he grew into a mighty and strong handsome black beauty, but somewhere along the way, his self esteem suffered from all of the trauma of his early days. He was cynical. He didn’t socialize like other kitties his age. He preferred to be alone, and only sought attention by acting out. By day, he slept in the security of my closet shelf. But at night, he put on a stage voice and projected a loud protest to go out and do his thing until 4 a.m., at which time he loudly protested again to come inside. Most nights were a mystery to us. Occasionally, he wouldn’t make it home until the next afternoon. He slowly gained the nickname, Blackjack Nicholson, not really ever appreciating daylight in its truest form. Although he put on a mean show, he had a sweet, soft side. He simply wanted his privacy.

He acted like he didn’t care, but I knew better. He got used to me and I got used to him, and he slowly learned to trust. Years this was in the making, but he got to where he had a few other places he liked in the house. For example, he enjoyed sitting in front of the computer screen so I couldn’t see my words as I typed, or he also liked to walk all over me as he took up more than his twelve pounds of space in the bed. Buster had no regard for personal space, if it wasn’t his we were referring to. Slowly, we all learned our place and responsibilities to each other and the relationship became somewhat reciprocal, as long as we followed his rules.

Then, one day, Mali the maniac, showed up for a long visit, and life hasn’t been the same. The two cannot share the same litter box, the same room, or even the same house. Buster, the closet kitty, is reduced to hisses and trembling at the mere sight of the four pound kitten. He no longer has his closet to resort to if things get crowded because Mali never met a cat that wasn’t her playmate or a tight spot she couldn’t get in to, (but not necessarily out of.) This small firebox rules the house with a playful naughtiness and no regard for the closet kitty king and his domain. She loves to terrorize the big cat, and is most pleased with herself at the accomplishment. Now, here, clearly, is a cat with no self esteem problems.

I tried to do things right. I gave him love. I met his needs, I thought. I have three amazing kids, an obedient, well-adjusted dog, so as a mom, I have to ask what did I do wrong? Maybe I should ask Mali’s mom (my daughter, Lindsay) how she raised a cat with no self image issues. Maybe she could write a book on it…

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