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  • Jack Gayer

A Pedacito Of A Long-Awaited Reunion With My Cat, Buck

In late February, my girlfriend and I handed over our two cats to a pet transportation service. We were moving to the Philippines from Thailand and were counting on seeing the cats again shortly. However, it wasn't until May that we were finally reunited (with our cats, my girlfriend and I traveled together).

Hello, my name is Buck
Hello, my name is Buck

Seeing our cats again was anything but assured the whole time. There were significant financial setbacks throughout our move to the Philippines and even after arriving. At one point, if it wasn't for the generosity of a friend, the cats were in danger of being sold off. Besides money, life threw other difficulties at the reunion.


A lack of flights led to further postponements (and rising costs). There was also a major storm that made flights near impossible. At one point, one cat stopped eating, and the pet service feared he would need an operation. It turned out he had eaten some food meant for dogs and had swallowed a bone but was ultimately fine.


My girlfriend and I adopted the cats last year. Luna, A tuxedo-colored female (my girlfriend's cat), and Buck, a fluffy, yellow-orange Persian (mine). Luna is moody and loves attaching herself to my girlfriend like an infant with separation anxiety. However, she's not opposed to occasionally biting my girlfriend in the face if she (the cat) is angered, which is frequent.

Outside the entrance to our Bangkok apartment
Outside the entrance to our Bangkok apartment

Buck is far more even-tempered and approachable. He is a catnapper's dream as he will let anyone pick him up, which happens often. In Bangkok, he would wander into other people's apartments. He would playfully swat dogs' tails and accept frequent snacks. He liked to hang out in front of the building and watch the comings and goings.

Buck, on my shoulder
Buck, on my shoulder

In short: Everyone loved Buck and knew his name. However, as much as he got along with neighbors and friends, Buck and I had an unshakable and instant bond. A bond that Buck did not grow out of even as he grew out of kittenhood. If Buck sleeps in our room, he wakes me up by licking my beard every morning. It's as endearing and unpleasant as it sounds, but he won't leave me alone until I let him "clean" me.


When we were reunited with our cats, as reunions are wont to do, it was anticlimactic and ridden with feces. At least Buck came covered in feces. Luna was spotless. And furious.


Buck couldn't have seemed less interested in seeing me again, despite our nearly codependent attachment earlier in the relationship. Besides the strong scent and collection of excrement matting his fur, Buck's apathy to seeing me was the most unpleasant part of seeing him again.

Buck, after a bath
Buck, after a bath

However, after a couple of hours of exploring the house (and a bath that only somewhat reduced the smell), Buck came when I called him. He rubbed himself against my legs and let me scratch his chin. I threw wadded-up paper towels for him to chase. He had already been returned to me, but now he had returned to me. The Buck I knew and loved.


There's an unexplainable and unmatched love between a pet and its owner. It’s like having a best friend that you never have a falling out with: If the best friend was utterly reliant on you for survival.


Further, there's a finality and grace to losing a pet. It's tragic and heartbreaking. But accidents happen, and nature is an indifferent, brutal place where death is an omnipresent threat to animals. But knowing your pet is still out there in the world, alive and well, yet out of reach is its own special torment.

Buck, wanting some attention
Buck, wanting some attention

Writing this was bittersweet because, for months, it felt like it would inevitably have a sad ending for me. However, as I first started to write this, Buck jumped on the bed and rested his paw on me. It was a perfectly timed moment and was figuratively, and literally, touching.

Hanging out in his cat house
Hanging out in his cat house

There are things we can discard when traveling. Losing them makes traveling lighter and easier. But pets aren't things: commodities to be bought or sold like a cord of firewood. Pets have personalities. They have anxieties, peculiarities, and preferences for certain people. No, we "can't go home again." But sometimes, we can still bring a piece of home back to us, and then, wherever we find ourselves, we are home.

 

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