Though he had been fading for several weeks
and – as a 19.5-year-old diabetic – had long outlived his actuarial expectations,
it was still hard to lose Bubba on Jan 23.
His story goes all the way back, in a roundabout way, to Skygge
who was the Farmers' first cat (a shelter adoption), when they were youngish students in Minneapolis
and way before they became farmers.
Skygge moved with them to Blacksburg, Virginia, for 7 years and then to Duluth in 1986.
By 1994 Skygge was 19 or 20 years old, well set in her ways, and not in the mood for feline companionship.
But that summer a feral cat deposited 4 kittens in the garage of our Duluth home. Barb made a refuge for them under the bathroom sink
intending to first socialize them and then find them good homes.
But orange Julius proved to be so timid, shy and frightened that we knew he would be impossible to place.
Barb worked long and hard to get him to come out of the bathroom, and gradually he felt comfortable in the house,
to the consternation of Skygge; she loathed the attentions of this energetic young guy who wanted to play all the time.
Looking for a playmate his own age to distract Julius from bothering the old puss, we found Bubba at Animal Allies Humane Society.
This feisty little kitten was rescued from a live trap in west Duluth; he had been stabbed in the back of the neck.
Although he was a few weeks younger than Julius and (for awhile) smaller, he didn't hesitate to administer a good licking.
As intended, the boys played together
and watched the MacNeil-Lehrer PBS News Hour together,
but they also tag-teamed up on poor Skygge, who decided to check out in Oct 1995 at a ripe old age.
It wasn't long before Bubba outweighed Julius
thereby serving as an even more comfortable pillow.
The two alternated between being best of friends
and sparring partners who chased each other all over the house. Here Bubba sports a scratched nose from one of their skirmishes.
They moved to the Farm with us in 2007 and enjoyed country life together
until Julius died in 2010.
For months after, Bubba would start each day looking for Julius in all the places he usually haunted.
Although overweight and asthmatic as a youngster
and diabetic for many years (Barb gave him insulin shots twice each day), Bubba lived far longer than his veterinarians predicted.
He always had ratty long fur and was never much for bathing himself, so he easily developed mats and tangles.
Last summer's "Lion's Cut" at the vet's office took care of the problem
even if he looked dorky for a few months.
Bubba had cozy beds all over the house, but usually preferred to choose his own spots for hanging out.
A basket of laundry hot out of the dryer was a favorite retreat
(which is why the Farmers' clothes always sported white and tan hairs)
and a warm lap would do in a pinch.
He would often park in the front window
to keep track of the wildlife outside
and on cold days he knew all the sunny spots.
He was always willing to help out in the office by warming the desktop
or holding down books and papers.
He lived a long and happy life and is probably now up in Kitty Valhalla, howling in the middle of the night to keep the other inhabitants awake, as he was wont to do,
and carefully walking past linoleum floors in order to barf in a carpeted area that is harder to clean. Farewell, Bubba!