My visit with my brother was designed to coincide with my sister-in-law’s vacation with her mother, which leaves the house unprotected from the whims of its three male inhabitants — Larry, me and Bubba the Overlord. Bubba rules the place with efficient charm, getting what he wants when he wants it without being too obnoxious or obvious about it.
He is a Maine Coon cat, if not pure, at least having most of the chracteristics of the breed. The fur dripping from a Maine Coon’s neck is like a lion’s mane, and there is more fur everywhere than on the typical cat — in the ears, on the bottoms of the paws. They are made that way to survive harsh New England winters, which makes Texas a strange place for one of them to end up. They are said to be relaxed and easy-going, playful all their lives, fond of people but not overly dependent on them. I can say that is true of Bubba, but it is also true of most of the cats I’ve ever known.
My brother rescued the cat, which means more than it does in Fort Wayne — drive out to the animal shelter and choose a feline companion some Saturday morning. Bubba had been dumped by a vistor to the region, and he spent his time traveling between three houses — my brother’s one of them — all of them about a mile apart. He’d spend several days at each place, mooching and hanging around as he made his circuit. But one of the other places had more cats and the other had cats and dogs both, so Bubba ended up spending most of his time here, getting the undivided attention of the inhabitants.
My brother and his wife came back from a shopping trip or something one day and noticed the cat slumped under a corner of the house. They took a closer look and saw that his head was twice normal size. They rushed him to the vet, who informed them that the cat had been bitten by a rattlesnake. Armed with antibiotics, they took the cat home and installed him in the utility room. After a few days, he started perking up and wandering around the house, inspecting his new surroundings. The minute he spotted the bed in the master bedroom, he hopped up and curled up. He was dubbed Bubba, and he has been in charge ever since.
He is now an inside-semi-outside cat, meaning he has the run of the screened-in deck. He sits there a lot of time gazing out over the property, perhaps thinking wistfully of all the other creatures he used to chase or gratefully about all the other snakes he will never encounter. When my brother and his wife wander their land these days, they carry sticks and revolvers loaded with “snakeshot,” special cartridges that basically turn a handgun into a shotgun. I have to say I’d never heard of that, but I can see its advantages for homeowners wanting to protect their property. Unless you live in D.C., of course.