Whenever I look at photos of Baby Buddy, I try to remind myself there was a whole lot of crazy that came with the cute.
The surreptitious pooping underneath my bed. The relentless nightly war waged against my ankles and feet. The incessant meowing as if he’d reconciled classical and quantum physics and needed to tell me all about it right this very instant.
Actually he hasn’t quite given up that last hobby. He still tackles weighty subjects in minutes-long soliloquies delivered in meow, but he’s generally less insistent unless the topic involves food.
One of my fondest memories of Baby Bud involves that hyper talkativeness combined with boundless kitten energy and Buddy’s unique brand of crazy.
It started with bedtime. I was settling in for sleep and Bud was making it clear he would have none of it. So I sighed, making sure my feet were fully wrapped in the armor of a blanket to render kitten claws and teeth ineffective.
One of his favorite moves as a kitten was to wait until I was falling asleep, my heart rate slowing, before going kamikaze on my feet. He’d listen for the first snore, chomp down on my toes and gleefully flee before I realized what was happening, happily trilling and chirping after another successful ambush.
This time Buddy had something else in mind. As soon as the lights were off and I was settled in bed, he took off like the Roadrunner, ricocheting off the walls and yelling out “BRRRRRRUUUPPP!!!! BRRRRRRUUUPPP!!!” as he pinballed around the room.
This went on for several minutes until, without warning, Buddy skidded to a halt on my back, meowed the kitten equivalent of “OH YEAH!” and collapsed on top of me with an epic sigh of contentment. He was asleep within seconds.
I can’t do justice in words to how funny it was, except to say I was laying there belly-laughing with my kitten on top of me, afraid I was going to wake him up.
At the time it was also validation. This kitten was my first-ever pet, and he was clearly a happy little dude. That made me happy too.
I miss Baby Buddy, but I love adult Buddy even more precisely because I have more memories like this one to fondly look back on…and because adult Buddy mercifully doesn’t treat my feet like scratching posts when I’m asleep!
Day 1: I meowed for treats for two hours and 37 minutes this morning, to no avail. Has Buddy the Larger suffered a stroke? This could pose serious problems for my snacking requirements.
Day 2: This must be a joke. A bad, totally-not-funny joke that’s gonna end with my teeth and claws delivering the final punchline. I WANT MY TREATS NOW.
Day 3: This new kibble is tasteless. Blue Buffalo Wilderness, my ass. More like Brown Cardboard Inside. Thank God I still get turkey. Oh, turkey, I love you.
Day 4: It has been 93 hours, 22 minutes and 17 seconds since my last treat, a creamy, moist morsel of manufactured goodness that activated the reward pathways in my brain like only the finest kitty crack can. You got any on you, bro?
Day 5: By employing my own talents of stealth and acrobatics, I’ve discovered not only is Big Buddy withholding snacks from me, they’ve all disappeared from the snack cabinet! What horrible sorcery is this?
Day 6: Last night I helped myself to some of Big Buddy’s pasta when he left the room to refill his beverage. It’s awful, rubbery stuff topped with sauce made from tomato, that infernal vegetable. Yet I gulped it down. What’s happening to me?!
Buddy is my little helper this Halloween, as he is every year.
When the doorbell rings he runs excitedly over to the door like a dog, looking back at me like “Come on, dude! People are here! Open the door and give them candy!”
The kids love him.
“Oh, he’s so cute!” one little girl, dressed as a Disney princess, exclaimed just a few minutes ago.
“Look! A kitty cat!” another said, pointing happily.
Unfortunately Buddy will not wear his costume. Maybe that’s for the best, since he could be accused of cultural appropriation. Can cats appropriate culture?
It was all I could do to get that grainy, poorly-lit iPhone photo above. Sorry! The little dude doesn’t like collars, clothes, costumes or anything else on his body. Not even snacks can bribe him.
I couldn’t get the hat to stay on his head more than a few seconds, and he’s a little escape artist with the poncho. There was no way he would have sat like that long enough for me to get a shot with the Canon, unfortunately.
But he is a good little helper with the trick-or-treaters, and later tonight he’ll nap in my lap as I curse myself for eating too many leftover Twix and Snickers. He’s my buddy!
Warm salutations and greetings to you, my friend! I am writing to your most esteemed personage having just been informed by my attorneys that I stand to inherit more than 5,000 pounds of premium catnip, including Meowie Wowie, Purrple Haze, Kitty Kush and Mewbury OG.
However, due to the Byzantine inheritance laws of my homeland of Nigeria, I am unable to come into my considerable catnip fortune without an American bank account, which is needed to pay the inheritance fee to the Nigerian Office of Catnip Inheritance.
This is where I must humbly ask for your assistance, good sir or madame. It is my fervent hope that we may come to an agreement in which you allow me to make the inheritance payment from your account in exchange for a large portion of my inheritance. Would 2,000 pounds of catnip be acceptable recompense to you for this favor?
Yours truly, your friend,
Grand Prince Four One One, Nigerian Royal Family Cat
Wow! Five thousand pounds of catnip! This sounds almost too good to be true! If I were you I’d build a big vault for all my catnip and go swimming in it daily, like Scrooge McDuck does with his money!
I don’t know where Nigeria is but it sounds like a wonderful country. I stole my human’s bank information and have attached it to this email. When will I get my 2,000 pounds of catnip?
Dearest Most Magnificent Buddy,
Warm salutations! It is my life’s honor to count you among my friends and execute this business deal together. Good fortune smiles on us both, and soon we will be bathing in rivers of catnip, the envy of all other cats!
There has been a small hiccup with the Ministry of Inheritance. In order to process my payment, I am required to submit a small processing fee with the Royal Processing Fee Bureau of Nigeria. It is only a paltry sum of $2,000, but again I am only able to make this payment via an American bank account.
If you would be so kind as to authorize the payment, you shall be reimbursed of course and we will be basking in our new catnip fortunes shortly!
With great affection and respect,
Four One One, Feline of the Nigerian Royal Family
If you can repay the $2,000 right away, I’m happy to help! I’ll look out for the check and the catnip in the mail!
Most Marvelous Benefactor Buddy,
You, Sir, are my most valued and trusted friend! They say American cats are fat, lazy and selfish, but they are wrong, for you are not selfish at all! I have let it be known in my village that Buddy of America is a wonderful and wise cat. They sing songs about you and your generosity.
We are almost in possession of our catnip, my friend! All that remains is to cover the shipping fee and the Royal Nigerian Export fee. They are paltry sums, merely $4,000 and $3,500 respectively. I have already had my servant mail the $2,000 reimbursement for the processing fee, and will similarly return the funds promptly upon paying the export and shipping fees from your respected American bank account.
I received but a small sample of the Meowie Wowie this afternoon and raise a toast in your honor!
Your Loyal Friend,
Four One One, Cat Royal of the Family
I’m fresh out of cash. What if I could scrounge up some cans of tuna and some old toys? Could we bribe the clerk to waive the export fee?
I haven’t gotten my $2,000 reimbursed and still no catnip! I know you probably forgot to write me back, but can you please tell me what the status is?
You tricked me! No catnip, no reimbursement, no village cats singing songs about me!
It just so happens I have a cousin in your country. He’s gonna pay you a visit!
Dearest Most Esteemed Honorable Buddy,
Your, ahem, cousin presented himself just minutes ago. Please, on my behalf, thank him again for not eating me! I did not know lions could be so merciful and had already emptied my bladder by the time I realized he would allow me to live.
Here is your $2,000 and the first 200 lbs of catnip you are owed. The rest will be delivered in installments for the next 24 months.
Lastly, I am instructed to inform you that, per your cousin’s direction, the music teachers have been drafting paeans to your majesty, and the kittens will stage a three-act play about how awesome you and your cousin are. But mostly your cousin.
I’m not asking because I think cats are locked in an eternal good-vs-evil struggle between their deity, the God of Napping, and the evil forces of the Red Dot. We’re all well aware of that.
I’m asking because, well, my cat prays. He eases onto his hind legs, sits straight up, puts his paws together and gestures as if in fervent prayer, just like this guy:
Or this marbled tabby apparently in the middle of her evening vespers to the God of Yums, that from which all sustenance seems to come. The fridge.
And finally this kitty, who baffles his owners as he stands up, presses his paws together and shows excellent prayer form:
Buddy has some bizarre and amusing moves in his repertoire of feline quirks, but the “praying” thing is the one behavior I haven’t come close to decoding. I hadn’t even heard of it until I saw the little guy doing it one day when he was just a few months old.
First thing’s first: No one seriously believes cats are praying or know what prayer is, so I just wanted to get that disclaimer out of the way before my inbox gets flooded with variations of “HAHA U MORAN CAT’S CANT PRAY LOLZ”
Some people think the motion looks more like a begging gesture. Cats are asking for something when they do it, proponents of the begging theory argue.
I think we can rule that out. I’ve heard owners of other “praying” cats say their furry lieges wave their paws like that in various situations, and that’s been my observation as well. Bud does it randomly, and I’ve seen him do it while he was unaware of my presence. He couldn’t have been asking for anything.
There’s no research on this behavior and there’s virtually nothing about it on the web aside from a handful of Youtube videos.
Maybe it feels like stretching or provides some other form of muscle relief. Maybe it’s a cat’s way of limbering up. Maybe it’s an indication of a cat’s mind state, the same way relaxed ears and an upright tail indicate kitty’s happy and relaxed. Or maybe it’s a form of self-soothing for anxiety.
Those are all guesses, and none of them feel quite right. So help a dedicated cat servant out: What’s your take on this behavior, and what prompts cats to do it?
Before I adopted Buddy, I vowed I’d be a different kind of cat dad.
Where other people gave their cats normal, mundane and even human names, I would give my kitten a spectacular moniker, one that would convey both his awesomeness and my cleverness.
If my new kitten were female, I’d name her Arya or Khaleesi. By the time I was ready to adopt, I was set on the former. For people who weren’t Game of Thrones obsessives for the past eight years, Arya Stark (pictured above) was the show’s plucky orphan and one of its most popular characters.
If my new kitten were male, I’d name him Khal Drogo after the fierce Dothraki warlord played by the musclebound Jason Momoa. But perhaps Khal Drogo wasn’t awesome enough. Maybe I needed something even more badass, like Tigron, Destroyer of Worlds, or Saberfang the Earthshaker.
Then I took the soon-to-be-named Buddy home and realized those names were ridiculous. This tiny ball of fur with a pipsqueak mew couldn’t be Khal Drogo or Tigron. In fact, the first thing I called him was buddy: After I’d placed him in his brand new carrier and carefully buckled the carrier into the front passenger seat of my car, he looked at me through the bars with those big grey (at the time) eyes and cried.
“Don’t worry, buddy, we’re going to be best friends,” I assured him. “You’ll see.”
No doubt he was further traumatized and terrorized by my terrible singing voice as I queued up some tunes for the drive home.
After some two weeks of indecision, I was hanging out with my brother one night when he asked me about my new friend.
“Ah, the cat…” I said.
“You still haven’t given him a name?” My brother was incredulous.
I had given him a name, I just hadn’t realized it yet. During those two weeks I called him buddy, with a lowercase b. A nickname. Not long after that, it became official.
My cat’s name is Buddy.
In retrospect, it makes sense to hold off on granting a name for a while. There are a million Mittens and Socks and Shadows in the world, but how many cats have names that reflect their personality?
It turns out Buddy isn’t a particularly common cat name. It doesn’t appear at all in most popular cat name lists floating around the web, whether they’re sourced from registration, veterinary records or user-generated data.
Buddy finally makes an appearance way down on the list of cuteness.com’s most popular cat names, at #67, way behind enduring male names like Max, Charlie, Milo, Simba, Oliver, Jack, George, Loki, Jasper, Felix and Tiger.
In an article on male cat names, veterinarian Debra Primovic hits the nail on the head:
The majority of cats named Buddy are mixed breed cats owned or named by men. They are often rescued or strays brought into homes and hearts across the world. They are generally loyal and adore their owners.
A Buddy isn’t a prissy, carefully-bred show pet. He’s a Buddy.
The word buddy first came to prominence in 19th-century ‘Merica, and there are two main theories about where the name comes from. The most popular one posits “buddy” is a corruption of the word “brother,” according to Word Detective, while others trace its etymology back to “butty,” a slang-word for a comrade or co-worker among miners, pirates and others who were after “booty.”
Not booty in the modern sense, as in “Get on the dance floor and shake your booty!” but in the treasure sense, as in “Argh! Tell us where the booty be or walk the plank, we shall make ye! Now talk, scallywag!”
I like the first one because it fits: While I do feel parentally protective of my Bud, I see him more as a little brother or a best friend instead of my “child.” No disrespect meant to the people who call their cats “furbabies,” of course. It’s just how I envision our feline-human friendship.
What’s your cat’s naming story? Were you as ridiculous as I was, or did you have your heart set on something less absurd from the beginning?