“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” -Robert A. Heinlein
I’m an animal lover. Not an uncommon thing in the world in which we live, but I’m so specific about it that it’s a little bizarre at times.
I love owls and their majestic beauty. I have a collection of owl items, from jewelry boxes to salt & pepper shakers. If my state allowed it, I’d have an owl in my back yard, no joke (Ok, I might have been partially kidding.). I am extremely breed specific with dogs, I definitely don’t love them all (and trust me, the feeling is mutual). What I do love with fierce consistency are cats. Wild, Hybrids, & Domestic. Cats are a definite passion of mine.
I’ve had cats in my life my entire life. Growing up it was my mother’s cat, a cat who had absolutely no use for anyone other than my mother. She tolerated my father, she tolerated my arrival, and the subsequent arrival of my brother, but she was a traditional cat in the sense that she loved one person and one alone, and if you did something wrong she knew about it before anyone else in the house. The only person she ever showed love to was my mother, and with just cause. When this cat was maybe 4-6 weeks of age, my parents rescued her in the middle of the night from where she cried, trapped in a rose bush. My Mom has been trying to rescue her off the street for a while, most especially after she’d crawled into a neighbor’s car from underneath in an attempt to get warm, a truly scary and dangerous thing for any kitten or cat to do. My Mom took her in, washed her clean of all the dirt, grime, and bugs of her short, but accumulative street cat life, and gave her a warm place to be. She gave her space, and eventually she wandered out of her one room solitude and became my mother’s first official cat baby. (Side note: My mother was a dog person and had no real intention of keeping this cat. For months my father kept telling her he was “searching for someone to adopt her”, and eventually she stopped asking and Lord knows he’d probably never looked in the first place! This turned my parents into “cat people”, and they definitely passed this on to their children.)
When we had to put her to sleep, it was an incredibly painful time for all of us. I don’t remember exactly how old I was at the time, but she developed diabetes, and would not allow my mother to give her insulin injections, and so the decision to not let her suffer was made.
I remember the drive to the pet cemetery where we had private time with her before the injection, and I remember very clearly that we buried her next to my Mom’s beloved dog. I remember sitting with her in the backseat, and singing to her the entire way. I find nothing odd about the fact that many, many years later my mother developed diabetes and would not give herself injections. She hated needles. She was willing to give her cat injections to save her life, but wouldn’t save her own with the same care. That little cat had found the right person, had spent her life being loved and cherished, and they were both blessed to have found each other.
We move to present day, I am the mother of a 17 year old cat that I have had since she was 8 weeks old and fit in one hand. I assure you this little darling is more than just a cat. She is without question my favorite human. I know that dog people think their dogs are people, but they’re wrong (partly). Dogs love without question, cats make you earn it. I’ve only met one dog in my life that I immediately fell in love with. She was an American Eskimo and I wanted her within three seconds of meeting her. I still adore the breed with a passion, and even though I promised myself I’d adopt one as soon as I bought a house with a yard, I have been here just slightly over three years and I still haven’t done it.
Several months ago I decided to give it a shot. I went and checked out dogs and met a beautiful Siberian Husky. I myself am part Yakuts Siberian and am proud of this amazing breed. Unfortunately and sadly, this dog was not for me. As soon as they brought her to me she got up on her back paws, technically still a puppy she was nearly my height. She needed to be able to run free, to be allowed to work off the excess energy she had pent up. I felt terrible for her. She didn’t try to hurt me, but she did bite me in her over-eager, aggressive attempt to seek out love and affection. I knew that I couldn’t have her. I know she will find the right home, she may already be in the right home. You couldn’t look at this dog and not fall in love with her sweetness or her strength, but as I walked away that afternoon I came to the very real conclusion that I am a cat person and not so much a person that can love dogs and cats equally. I’d actually come to this conclusion many years ago when the tiniest of tiny dogs started barking at me insanely from a good two block distance. Her owner informed me she was the sweetest dog and had never behaved like this before. Super tiny dog growling and trying to behave like a Great Dane in my presence, seeing me as some kind of threat. I brushed it off with her owner, explaining that I had two cats and that she probably smelled them and thought I was a cat too. We laughed and it was over, until my cat got sick in late 2007. I’d just walked into the vet’s office and signed her in when another pet owner’s midget dogs (also a small breed. I can’t remember exactly what they were, but I can still hear the yapping!) started to go ballistic in my presence. I really wasn’t in the mood for their yapping, so I turned around to inform them that “There’s only room for one Alpha bitch in this room and I’m it, so knock it off.”, and within a second or two of my saying it, they shut up and their owner chuckled at my reaction and response. She probably thought I was kidding, but I wasn’t.
Not long after that incident, that sweet cat died in my arms. My brother tried reviving her, but it was too late. I will never forget that moment because she looked at me seconds before it happened as I promised her I’d get her the help she needed and she just had to stay with me and hold on a little while longer. Earlier that same day the vet had told me to put her to sleep. I was furious with that kind of heartless response (and if you’d met this vet, you’d have felt the same way. He’s the kind of man that revels in telling young children that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist, that Santa won’t bring them presents because they’re bad, that the monster under the bed is real and will eat them. Seriously, he delivers bad news the way normal people deliver good news, it’s creepy.). I remember consulting with my brother in that moment and his response was “She deserves better than that from you. She deserves more than just you giving up on her. Ok, so she’ll need medicine, you’ve always taken really good care of her, that isn’t going to change.” and a little while later he also said that he didn’t trust this vet to take care of anything, leave alone this beloved cat
Needless to say, this little girl worshiped my brother and adored my mother & father. She was mine, she was supposed to love only me, but she was a true cat. She tolerated me, she saw me as her playmate and her food provider, she saw me as the person who took care of her when she was sick, but she also had no problem slapping me in the face with her huge paws if she didn’t like me walking around the house doing my Dobby the House Elf impression and she especially hated me when I walked around saying “My precious.”, because apparently this impersonation of Gollum also disturbed her. Losing this little ray of light came at a time in my life where loss superceded everything else. No matter where I turned, I kept losing. It took me two weeks to bury her, something I am not the least bit proud of.
Back to my original point (Yes, I’m long-winded, but I do eventually get back on point!!): I am a cat person. Cats respond to me like no other animal in the world. The relationship I have with my little macaroon is mother/daughter, best friend, therapist. She’s exceptionally sharp, intuitive, sassy, and is often the only reason I get up in the morning, mostly because she insists upon meowing around 4:00 a.m. and only stops for brief periods until I give in and feed her, change her water, do a little dance, or whatever else she has requested. Clearly I speak cat, but sometimes even I have my limitations! Regardless, this cat has staff and she likes it when we’re prompt.
Wherever I go, cats find me. Stray cats seek me out. A neighbor’s cat once came to my patio door, clearly confused that this was not “his” door. I took him in for the night, much to the chagrin of my furry owner, and because this neighbor had been in the process of moving, she & her family had not noticed that he’d escaped. Not only would I notice if my cat escaped, I would notice if I didn’t see her for over 12 hours. I’m also positive that I’d call in the National Guard* to find her.
I believe in adopting from no-kill shelters. I do not believe in purchasing an animal from a breeder, unless you are adopting a Hybrid which requires documentation of its parentage, especially in certain states where you may need a permit to own the animal. For example, New York City currently does not allow anyone to own or possess an F1 Savannah, and most Bengal kittens are also off limits. I live in Pennsylvania where Savannahs are considered domestic cats, as opposed to an exotic animal. I’d own one in a heartbeat, if I wasn’t so madly in love with my Tortoiseshell.
My no-kill shelter of choice is the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, NY. This is where every pet in my family has been adopted, except for the one family cat that was adopted off the street, and whose life was saved because when he was brought to the vet he was dying from an infection. He now gets proper veterinary care, doesn’t have to fight other cats for food, and is the king of the castle. He also receives insulin twice a day since developing diabetes two years ago. He’s the only cat that thinks smacking me around is a good time. He’s a beautiful black Ragamuffin named Venus (Only my Aunt would name a cat after the Goddess of Love, but in all fairness, she didn’t know he was male when she named him, She tried changing over to Elvis once she found out, but thought my mother would kill her. LOL.). Unlike my little muffin man, my macaroon has never intentionally bitten, scratched, or attacked me. She’s supremely calm, laid back, and gentle. Up until a few years ago, her meows were more like tinkling bells, and she didn’t hiss or growl unless she saw another cat. Now she tolerates absolutely no other animal. Last Spring she attacked my patio door when she spotted a baby bunny that was approximately 1/4th her size, taking a walk in the yard with its mother. Defender of the Mommy and the house, YOU BET!!
Unfortunately, at age 17 she has her health problems. Three & 1/2 years ago my best friend was visiting from Germany and noticed that the macaroon was drinking excessively, and she was concerned. She made me promise to take her to the vet immediately. I did, and it was decided that she needed a radioactive iodine treatment. That treatment saved her life. The unfortunate side of this treatment is that it can bring heart and kidney issues into play later on. In the moment, you want your cat’s (or dog’s) life to be saved, but as they get older, you cannot imagine life without them.
Life is as short as it is long. If you want to save a life, adopt a pet. I know many people are allergic and therefore believe they cannot have any kind of pet, but there are hairless dogs and cats, and hypo-allergenic animals that you could have in your life. My brother is allergic to cats and I can honestly say I’d get rid of him before I’d get rid of a cat. I have developed an allergy to cats as well, but it will not stop me from continuing to allow these beautiful, amazing creatures into my life and heart. If I could have cheetah cubs in my house or a Serval, I would. I like who I am when I have a cat (or two) in my life. My cats have taught me tiny bits of patience (Hello, still the world’s most impatient woman!!), they have taught me that when I think I can love no more, there is still room for growth. They’ve taught me how to be a mother. I have also learned that a Queen size bed is apparently not large enough for a 7 pound cat with blanket stealing abilities.
Whether you love cats or dogs, or have the ability to truly love both, I hope that you will allow yourself to be blessed by these loving creatures at least once. Not only does saving a life help balance out your karma, but devoting yourself to someone that is totally reliant on you is one of the most rewarding things in the world.
If you’re thinking of adopting please go to: http://www.animalleague.org
North Shore Animal League
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY 11050
PetFinder to find animals locally that need your help.
If you find that you truly cannot adopt, these organizations also accept donations, however large or small.
*Calling in the National Guard is an exaggeration. I’d be much more likely to demand the FBI work her missing person case. I would want Special Agent Seeley Booth here immediately, and if he was busy I’d be on the phone to Patrick Jane in a New York Minute!! (That’s a joke, you can laugh now.)