17 days

There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat. ~Tay Hohoff

Most people don’t have to know me very long before they know how much I love my cats. Whether talking about my own or talking about what’s going on at my favorite local shelter, it doesn’t take long for the topic to come up. Often at work, sitting and staring at my computer screen, I will randomly tell stories about Tate and Toby – always unprompted, out loud. The stories are usually the type that are only funny or endearing if you were there. I can’t see anyone else’s faces over the cube walls, I can’t even confirm anyone is listening, and I’m positive my co-workers think I am nuts.

I don’t believe my love for cats is a coincidence nor something that simply grew on me. I have remembered loving cats before I had even seen one in person. I think it’s in my DNA, because as much as I love all animals, it’s the perfect nature versus nurture study. I was surrounded by dogs and horses, yet I was never completely happy without a cat. I can’t imagine a household I ever live in not being occupied by at least one of these purring fur balls.

My first cat ever was Mandy. I don’t remember if I was 4 or 5. But, I do remember it as the first happy memory I can recall – going to pick up my first ever kitten. My family was in He Who Shall Not Be Namedland at that time and my elderly babysitter was a fan of cats. She knew how much I loved them and somehow talked my mom into getting me one.

I remember being ecstatic when it was finally time to pick up the new kitten. I brought a little pink, wicker basket I used to put my baby dolls in to take her home. (My mom, having never had a kitten before, didn’t realize that was a bad, bad idea.) I remember getting out of the car, onto a gray cobblestone street, wearing a little white dress with navy blue dress shoes and ruffly white ankle socks. (Or, perhaps that wasn’t close to my outfit at all, but that’s how the event is burned into my memory.)

The next thing I remember is the drive home. Mandy didn’t want to stay in that pink wicker basket and I just couldn’t understand why. She was wildly hopping all over the car, jumping on and off of my mom’s shoulder and head, my mom trying to keep very calm while driving and asking me to please hold the kitten. (Mom was wearing a deep purple colored leather coat that got a lot of puncture marks in it as a result.)

Because I was so young and didn’t quite understand the personality of a cat, I don’t remember bonding much with Mandy after that. I remember her quietly sitting in the kitchen window or sitting outside on the railing. The last image I have of her in my mind is from an old picture where she was sitting outside, quietly gazing off into the overcast British sky. I was given the photo to keep to remember her by after we moved back to the states a couple years later. Mandy didn’t make the trek with us, she stayed in the He Who Shall Not Be Namedtish countryside to laze around in the garden and keep an old woman company (again, not sure if that’s the truth, but it’s how the story will always go to me).

After Mandy, came Penny. An orange cat I named after Inspector Gadget’s daughter. I came upon her at a local fair the first summer we lived in Colorado. I had to wear an eye patch, which I chose to decorate with cat stickers. The lady giving the kittens away saw my eye patch and knew my family would be an easy target to convince to take the cat. Who can say no to a little kid with an eye patch?

After Penny, came Sally. A long haired tabby in a local pet shop. She followed me around and around. She picked me, and again, I was a hard kid to say no to, and Sally came home. I was 13 when Sally decided she preferred a feral lifestyle to the comforts of our home, and one night, she just never came back. (Though, my mom swears Sally left mice on our back door for years to come.)

After Sally, came Daisy. And the rest, is history . . . Tate was my 21st birthday present and Toby followed a year later when we thought Tate was in need of a buddy (though I think Tate was happier as an only child, looking back).

I love cats so much because they have so many traits that I aspire to have. They are unwaveringly confident and calm. They can be silly yet sophisticated and poised all in one action. They never trust anyone too quickly, or too easily, and always demand the people in their lives earn respect to continue receiving it. They are amazing listeners, and of course, like all our 4-legged friends, they love unconditionally.

When I think about the traits I want in a future partner, I know he must love animals. I don’t expect him to necessarily have had a cat before, but I expect him to be open to the fact that I do and be willing to try and love them like his own. (I tell Tate and Toby all the time I am so sorry they have a dead-beat dad who I cannot allow them to see anymore. But, I tell them someday they will have a new dad who is going to love them even more.)

Gosh, so that’s my ramble on this 17th day of the count down. All about cats. On a Friday night.

And I even have to question why I am not getting any dates?? 🙂

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