A Paw in Each World

“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” ~Mark Twain

I have always had a cat in the house. When I was a little girl we went through a stream of felines with names like Fritzie, Tiffany, Noel, and Salem. Now dogs were also around; however, I was more drawn to the cats. Perhaps it was because I appreciated their aloof personalities. "I tolerate your existence. You give me food and shelter. I may occasionally show you some affection. Do not smother me, though, you stupid human.” Cats are very existential, much like my teenage years. 

After I first moved out on my own, I acquired two kittens, one from an ad in the paper and the other I found in the parking lot of my apartment complex. Max and Murphy were the destructors. They tore up curtains and pooped in my bathtub. Every night they slept in my bed...one above my head and the other with his paw cuddled around my neck. I may not have had a boyfriend, but those two kept me warm at night. When I decided to move to Texas, I knew I couldn’t take them with me so I put an ad in the paper. I sobbed after they were adopted and taken to their new homes. Everything was so quiet, so peaceful, so empty.

I had only been in Dallas for a few months when a friend of a friend dropped by with a tiny stray scraggly black cat along with food and kitty litter. She said I needed a cat, and then made a quick getaway. Well, that was very presumptuous of her! I didn’t need another furry interruption in my life. The two of us, kitten and girl, spent days figuring out if we really wanted this arrangement. Once we acknowledged we needed each other, we were buddies for the next fifteen years. Samantha traveled with me to Florida, ate popcorn right out of the bowl, saw me through heartache, came with me to Chicago, watched over my two babies, and comforted me during my divorce. When it was time to say goodbye, I stayed with her until the end. Samantha had seen me though the tough times; I owed her that comfort at the end.

Not too long after Samantha, Molly came into my life. After a quick trip to a local shelter, I brought home this gentle tortoiseshell kitten. Molly was quiet and sweet and a bit standoffish. Her favorite perch in our house on West Decatur was the wicker chair at the top of the stairs. I think she just wanted to keep an eye on all of us there. After I married Rock and moved into our new home, Molly quickly became ill with a kidney issue. I spent that first summer at the vet dealing with her expensive and difficult illness. After a quick remission, she soon became sick again. I knew I couldn’t go through that again, so I made the difficult decision to let her go. This time, though, the heartache was quickly erased by the appearance of two more balls of fur.

After Molly died, I promised my husband that we would have some time without cats in our house. Molly’s illness had been exhausting. But....this promise was short-lived. One afternoon my son Jack and I visited the animal shelter. We took the entire tour around the perimeter of the place. We saw cats and dogs and more cats and even more dogs. Jack, though, was drawn to the crate with two tiny kittens. One was black and the other was just a gray fur ball. Without consulting my husband, we adopted the two kittens on a whim! So less than a month after Molly’s demise, we brought home two more felines that have ended up being the strangest, weirdest, and kookiest cats I have ever encountered.

We discarded the stupid shelter names of Chico and Rico and welcomed Finn and Zooey into our family. Well....welcomed may not be what my husband thought at first. He was not happy that after promising to be pet free for a time, I ended up bringing home not one but two cats. Sorry, honey.  Zooey, though, took one look at Rock and fell in love. This cat has an unnatural attachment to my husband that borders on the psychotic. He is hers and she lets me know this every time I go near him if she is in the room. No one will ever convince me that animals do not possess jealousy, because I can hear the green monster in her every meow. Finn is a gigantic Maine Coon. His paws are the size of a toddler’s, and if he had thumbs, he would rule the world. I could comb him every day and not get at all of his fur balls. This cat thinks he’s a dog. He begs and whines and even gives us the look when he wants something. Their purrs are deafening. They are constantly underfoot. We call them awful names, yet they still love us. We have to keep them in the basement at night because we would never get any sleep because they would be right there....all the time...in our faces. They are odd. They are annoying. They are bizarre. They are ours.

I have promised my husband that after these two goofballs kick, we will go without cats for awhile. Promises, promises. We’ll see about that...

“The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats...” ~Albert Schweitzer