The other day I had an interesting phone chat with my Aunt Mary.
My Auntie lost her husband a few years ago, and while she’d love to bring home a dog for company she isn’t allowed to have one where she lives.
She can, however, have a cat.
Aunt Mary doesn’t want to do that, though, because she’s heard how “aloof” cats can be. She wants a friendly pup who will follow her around and lay by her feet.
I always smile when I hear someone say that, because for most of my life I thought along those same lines. I’d always shared my life with dogs, often three or four at a time. People got used to seeing me walk my herd through the neighborhood.
It was my dog, Jake, who changed my thinking 14 years ago when he found a tiny tabby kitten in the yard. The kitty had a brother and several sisters, and Jake’s beautiful heart knew he needed to bring these kitties inside so he could take care of them.
Jake fell head over heels for the kitties…and so did I. When Jake left us in 2006 I thought for sure another dog would find its way to us soon. But the kitties asked for something that would impact those plans for another doggie.
They asked for some dog-free time with me, so I could have the chance to REALLY understand the world of felines.
When they were done, I wouldn’t just know a few lines of “kitty” – I’d actually SPEAK CAT!
So here we are, six years later…Star and Molly still by my side, their siblings Dickens and Pippen flying through the stars with my angel doggies.
What have I learned about cats?
I know that cats express their affection differently than dogs do. Star and Molly know that I deeply love and respect them, and I feel their love for me down to the core of my being. I appreciate their unique personalities, and value all that they bring to my life. We are a family. We can count on that love, and don’t have to constantly be in each other’s presence to know that the bond connecting us is real.
On the other hand, there was that one cold winter’s night I was sprawled on the bathroom floor with a bad case of food poisoning. Molly curled up next to me for several hours…and she never moved. Perhaps on that particular night WIFM stood for what’s in it for MOM?
I know that the love I share with my cats is loose and fluid. Each of us gets to be who we are, there for each other in spirit but not necessarily attached at the hip.
Perhaps that is the truest and purest definition of love. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been capable of participating in a love like that when I was younger. Maybe I wouldn’t have been able to do it at all without a cat showing me the way.
Loving cats has changed how I define love. It’s changed me.
For the better…I think.
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