I am most definitely a cat person. I adore cats and always have. When I was seven our neighbour’s cat had a litter of kittens. I still remember my excitement. Having viewed the kittens, I rushed home, rehearsing plausible arguments and heartfelt pleas in my head as I ran. In the end, I couldn’t believe that Mum gave in so easily. Especially after the goldfish episode. I imagine she prayed that my having a cat would not be as stressful as the goldfish debacle. All that shrieking: “Mum he’s swimming upside down again!”
So Fluffy came to be part of our family. The first in a long line of cats.
I’ve been thinking about cats a lot lately. During the worst of my blasted cold, I remember thinking that a purring cat in my lap would be just the thing. Comforting. Restorative, even. When one is coughing and hacking or simply feeling low, there really is nothing like sitting in a patch of sunlight, feet up, with a cup of tea, a good book, and a cat in one’s lap.
The summer I was eight, and sick with hepatitis, I lugged Fluffy with me everywhere. I dressed her up in my doll’s nightgowns so she could be recuperating too. I remember Mum laughing at how she lay quietly, and never tried to squirm away.
Sometimes I had more than one cat. Like the beat-up looking, black and white tomcat who arrived at our door one day. I fed him, named him, and he stayed for months before wandering off again. He wasn’t allowed in the house, so I built him his own little house out of cardboard boxes, and was nonplussed when the adults all laughed at my “cat house.” Years later when we lived on the farm, my much younger cousin Davey did the same thing for our barn cats, and I finally got the joke. I lugged that old stray everywhere, just like I had lugged Fluffy, cuddled him, nuzzled him, and was sad when he left without saying goodbye. Mum used to sigh and say, “Susie always has an old cat stuck in her face.”
One year my current cat ran away. It was a different time; things often happened to cats in those days. We lived in a semi-rural area, with lots of woods nearby, and cats roamed freely. When my cat ran away, I was devastated. I told all my friends at school to keep an eye out for him, described him in detail. So when my friend Cathy arrived back at school after lunch one day to say she was sure that my cat had turned up at her house, I was delighted. After school she ran home to get the cat and returned with him. I carried him home on the school bus, so excited to have Winkie back. I know, I know, I was not terribly clever with names.
Back at home I thought for a brief moment that Winkie did seem maybe a little smaller than I remembered. When Mum arrived from work, I told her the wonderful news, proffering Winkie for her approval. She rolled her eyes and said, “Susie, he’s not even the same colour.” Apparently, although I don’t remember this, I offered the rationale that due to the rain we’d had he might have faded. Still, against all odds I was allowed to keep him. But he had to have a new name, since he was not actually Winkie.
That weekend, my sister’s friend, Gail, and her boyfriend arrived triumphantly with another cat. Again, not Winkie. But a sweet, butterscotch and white stray that had camped out on their doorstep for a week or so. Having heard about my missing cat, Gail thought I should have her. And so she stayed as well. Good thing Winkie never came home. I think that three cats and four kids in a three-bedroom apartment would have put mum over the edge.
When we moved from our apartment to the farm after my mum married my step-father, I was over the moon. Not just my own room under the eaves of the old farmhouse, and horses, and acres of fields to roam… but cats. Lots of cats. Eventually the cats all migrated from the barn to the snug box newly placed in the back shed. I must admit that this was not met with enthusiasm by anyone but me. Barn cats were supposed to stay in the barn, apparently. I still remember those cats sleeping all in a tangled pile in that box. So cosy.
After I left home and lived in one apartment or another, I had to forgo cats for a while. Until I met Hubby. He had two cats. A fact that pleased me no end. That’s Doc below, having his afternoon nap with Hubby. Doc lived to be twenty-one. Part of his longevity, I think, must be attributed to his ability to sense when anyone was napping, anywhere in the house. Me, Hubby, a guest who might be staying with us. Whomever. Doc didn’t mind sleeping around. He had a very restful life. Ha.
Hubby’s other cat was hell on wheels. In a good way. Having spent the first five months of her residence at Hubby’s house holed up in the cedar hedge, afraid to come out except to eat, she’d been appropriately named Scaredy Cat. In the first few months I dated Hubby, I only heard about Scaredy, and occasionally heard her mew. She hid in the woodpile in the basement when I was there. Eventually, though, we became firm friends. In fact she was so affectionate, I used to laugh that she was like Velcro.
So, we had two cats. One for each of our laps. As I’ve said before, Hubby was definitely the man for me.
Not long after I moved in with Hubby, I was tested for allergies. I’d been sneezing, with red and itchy eyes for months. My doctor made an appointment with an allergist and I went off to be tested. Afterwards I rushed home to share the news. I was allergic to dust, a few trees, and… wait for it… cats.
When I came in the door that evening, Hubby was in the living room, reclined on the sofa in front of the fire. Doc was asleep on his chest. Scaredy, curled up on his thighs purring, lifted her head and blinked at me.
“I’m allergic to cats!” I blurted out. Hubby looked down at the two cats, and said drily, “What a shame, guys. Just when we were starting to get used to her.” Hardy har har. He’s such a funny man sometimes.
Actually, I think what he meant was: love me, love my cats. No worries there. Allergy shots and antihistamines were the obvious solutions to my problem.
Now, have a look at this little video from the Simon’s Cat collection, and tell me you didn’t laugh at that.
So, yeah. I am a cat person And so is Hubby. Although he’s also a dog person. I think that’s kind of like being ambidextrous. I like dogs. But I don’t go all mushy and silly around them like with cats.
I miss having cats. Especially when I’m sick, or reclined on the couch reading, which I’ve been doing a lot of this winter. But until we stop travelling so much, we’ll have to stay cat-less. It’s a trade off.
In the meantime, I shall worship other people’s cats. Watch Simon’s Cat videos. And jealously peruse the Instagram feeds of people lucky enough to own a cat. Sigh.
So, are you a cat person? Or a dog person? Or maybe you’re ambidextrous like Hubby? Do tell.