Above is a photo of my son, (fledgling playwright and captain of his college rubgy team), sharing a tender moment with his orange tabby Buster. As a kitten, Buster fit into a palm. Now, he has to be slung over a shoulder.
New Yorkers love their cats. Probably because cats, unlike dogs, are allowed under rental leases and even most co-op boards will grant them a sentimental grandfathering in. And they are so painfully missed when they pass on. Only listen to the late New York novelist and diarist Dawn Powell’s lament upon losing her beloved Perkins.
My dear cat Perkins died today –very sweetly, very quietly, daintily, a lady wanting to give as little trouble as possible. She took sick Monday with chills and bladder trouble and threw up her fish. She knew and I knew that this was it. I cashed a bad check to take her to Speyer’s where the vet gave me pills and medicine to give her which she hated. She could not eat either. Nor would she try. Finally she lay on the balcony, exhausted, in the sun. I heard her choke, and she was in a convulsion, but I picked her up and put her in a chair where she managed to fix her sweet eyes on me while I held her paw and moistened her lips with water. It was unbearable. . . .
I forgot my debt to her … until the night after she died when I was alone in the house and suddenly every sound once more became sinister – the escaped lunatic slowly turning the doorknob the big brute creeping up the stairs. My cat analyst was dead and my phobias came plunging out of the pits and closets where they had been locked. I cannot have another pet – it would be unfaithful to my little dear who liked no one but me, knew no other cats, no mice, no love but mine. She thought she was my mother – was ashamed and outraged if I was noisy or loud-talking, slapping me if I was blah, avoided me scornfully if I was drunk, approved if I typed. She was the first pet in my life.
September 29, 1945
(New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009. p. 313.)