Bummer – The cat who started it all
How Bummer got his name:
During the first several weeks after Bummer came to live with me, I discovered his many peculiarities. Every time he went from on surface (e.g. carpeted floor) to another (kitchen tile) he checked to see if the new surface was hard before moving forward. He did not trust it to be hard the next time. Every time he went to use the litter box, he got out, scratched on the floor, and then wrapped the dirty litter in the liner by pulling it to the center of the pan from each corner. He then went on top of the wrapped litter unless I changed it. He did not want to be touched. He only went outdoors on the balcony. I kept telling him he was nice but basically a bummer cat. When I took him to the vet during our second week together, I had to give a name. I pointed out that I hadn’t decided but that he was responding, now, to Bummer. The vet loved it and formally christened him, Bummer.
Bummer was strong willed:
I was adamant that Bummer learn to wear a collar, if only for ID even though he was an indoor pet. Bummer did not regard a collar as natural. I put a lightweight cotton flea collar on him and he kept taking it off. I put it on; he took it off. After a week or so of this desensitization technique, the collar disappeared. I bought a new one and again we did the on and off routine. This collar lasted only a day or two. Soon the collars disappeared after the first time I put them on. When I put on collar number 12, I spent the whole day pretending to read the paper and the like while really watching him so I could find what he was doing with them, and he spent the day waiting for me not to watch him. It was a long, long day. Finally, when he thought I was distracted, I saw him open the sliding glass door to the balcony, take off the collar, and throw it off the balcony. I looked down and saw the others in a pile in the ivy bed below. Bummer never wore a collar.
Never let ‘em know what really gets to you.
Bummer learned quickly what really distressed me and used that to punish me if I violated what he considered his civil rights. He learned that I hated it when he dumped the glass water dish that held floating candles on the dining room table. I would hear water running, and by the time I got there, the dish was upright, water was cascading off the table and the candles were in a dry spot on the table. After many times, I was able to catch him in the act. He removed the candles, arranged his weight on his hind quarters, used both front paws to lift the dish and drain it. He then set it down gently and took off fast. I learned to get mad over things that didn’t bug me too much.
Bummer hated houseplants:
Bummer felt that plants belong outdoors, not inside. The worst was the Christmas tree. He knew trees belonged outside. One year I wired small white birds on the tree’s branches. The birds were not tightly wired to the tree and each had two wings. Each wing was a single feather. When I came home, all the wings were gone and all the birds were still upright on the tree, apparently in their original position. I never found the wings. I found I was unable to tear off the wings of the birds without causing the birds to fall down or completely off the tree.
Bummer and I lived together for 5 years before anyone ever saw him. He did not like people (myself excepted) at that time. I was teased a lot about having an imaginary pet. No one saw him, the litter was always clean, as were the food dishes (since he wouldn’t use dirty ones).
He’s not blind
I once quarreled with a vet regarding Bummer’s vision. He had cataracts, but he could see. The vet explained to me very patiently that he was blind. I pointed out that he could find clear push pins in the walls to send my pictures to the floor if he was feeling neglected. I pointed out about the wings on the tree. The Vet insisted that Bummer was blind because he could put his finger into Bummer’s eye without Bummer’s blinking—explaining to me about autonomic reflexes. He showed me. I said something stupid like Bummer was being nice to him. We never again discussed Bummer’s vision.