When I was seven, my cat Meeps died. I remember making a show of being upset, but I don't believe the pain ran deep. I think I just enjoyed the chance to be superficially distraught. It's like when Michael Jackson died, and everyone updated their Facebook statuses with "RIP Michael" even though they only ever listened to Thriller at Halloween and mistakenly added a picture of La Toya to their updates.
My mother and I buried Meeps in the backyard and had a little funeral for her, but that was the same weekend I'd gotten a Gameboy, so I was somewhat preoccupied.
Perhaps I was a heartless child, or maybe I've just never been terribly affected by death. Even at my own grandfather's funeral I only remember being bored, as if my grandfather died simply to inconvenience me.
Life and death are different sides of the same coin. This is a fact I've never struggled to accept. Pets are a perfect example of this, as many of us will have several pets during our lifetimes. All pets will leave us at some point. All pets die.
All pets, except for one.
A friend of mine owns a Blue Point Exotic Shorthair named Tuna Buttons, and he's the oldest, most decrepit cat I've ever met. He always seems to be on the verge of death, and baffles us all by continuing to live. It's impossible to count the number of death scares this cat has triggered. It's my personal hypothesis that at some point Tuna Buttons found a loophole in Death's plan and will live forever.
Alternatively, I've theorized that Tuna Buttons clings feebly to life by feeding on the life force of others, but this is a concern I failed to impart on anyone else. I've warned my friend that her cat might be sucking the life out of her while she sleeps, but my advice fall on deaf ears.
To make matters worse, Tuna Buttons is an outdoor cat, so there's no telling what havoc he might be wreaking out there on his own time.
My friend claims she got Tuna Buttons as a kitten in the 90's, but I'm not so sure. I think there's no telling how long Tuna has been crawling this earth. I can't help but wonder what Tuna Buttons has seen, what historic events he took part in.
What mysteries has Tuna Buttons seen? What ancient societies have come and gone during his lifetime? Was he there during the sinking of Atlantis?
Did he live through the ostentatious Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt? Was he worshipped as a king?
If only Tuna Buttons could talk. What wisdom might he impart, besides what flavor of Fancy Feast tastes best? It's a well known fact that cats are very into progressive politics, so I can only imagine what part he played in the civil rights movement.
Ever since I've known him, Tuna Buttons has been a moody cat. Downright cantankerous at times. Maybe it's because he's a Blue Point Exotic, the Wilford Brimley of the cat world. Or possibly it's because of something that happened to Tuna years ago. Could one of Tuna's previous owners been, say, Sylvia Plath? The death of an owner can't be easy for a cat.
Then again, death has little effect on me, so who's to say it would affect a pet? It's probably more likely that Tuna is simply weary after so many years on this planet.
Recently I had the opportunity to play with a new kitten, a lively little ball of fluff with the sparkle of naïveté glowing brightly in its eye. It should have made me feel warm inside, but I was filled with sorrow for this unfortunate little animal. Its life would pass in the blink of Tuna Buttons' eye––perhaps at the hand of Tuna Buttons himself.
They say when the world ends, the only thing left will be cockroaches and Cher. I think it's safe to add Tuna Buttons to that short list. Hundreds of years from now, after the nuclear holocaust, Cher and Tuna Buttons will scavenge the empty, crumbling cities for the rest of eternity, cockroaches scurrying about their feet. Cher will quietly hum Half-Breed under her breath while Tuna Buttons glares out across the wasted landscape...