What being a cat person means to me

IMG_0030I’ve got something light on the menu for tonight…

That’s Izzie on the left and Milo on the right- my babies 🙂 And yes, Milo is a big boy!! Izzie, a white and tabby domestic short hair, is 4, and Milo, black domestic long hair, is 2. They are both rescues. I adopted Izzie 3 years ago before Christmas. I didn’t want to be alone to put up my Christmas tree. Two years later, I felt like she needed a feline companion so I adopted Milo. They aren’t best of friends, but I guess they are like any other brother and sister duo- they may fight playfully but they will always stay close to each other. Of course, I don’t suppose they think of each other as siblings, or me as mommy for that matter, but guess what, I pay the bills around here and I get to make the rules- we are a family, deal with it!

I never thought of myself as a cat person. I grew up with dogs. I like the idea of being able to cuddle with a dog, to be showered with unconditional love, and to feel like you are really understood. When I decided to get my first pet, I really wanted to get a dog. But my apartment building doesn’t allow dogs. So one cold, wintry evening, I decided to pay a nearby SPCA adoption center a visit. I was captivated by Izzie’s uber-diva attitude! That was my girl, I knew it, and although she refused to budge from her cozy tower, soon she was in a carrier and homeward bound with me!

Within the hour after I brought Izzie home, my eyes had swollen up to the size of golf balls! I had to phone a friend to bring me some Claritin. Back in those days I rarely kept any anti-histamines in my medicine cabinet, but that has since changed. Now I apply sensitive skin cortisone cream on my eyelids before going to bed each night, true story! I know what you are thinking, trust me, I do. I get asked this all the time- you are allergic and you have two cats!?!?! Yes ma’ams and sirs, I have two cats and I do solemnly swear that I would rather die than part with them. So taking her back was not an option. I survived the night, thanks to Claritin. Next morning I decided to do something bold- I decided to bathe my brand new diva cat who also has claws! I must say I was in awe of Izzie’s lady-like poise and demeanor. She was clearly not at all amused by my maniacal feat but she put up with it with perfect composure. Bath was a success, and I didn’t have to rely on Claritin anymore.

Fast forward two years and I found myself at the same SPCA once more, this time with my sister. We saw Milo, Chaps- his shelter-name, and he was the goofiest cat we had ever seen. He was recovering from a severe allergic reaction at the time so he was almost entirely bald, but he had long hairs sticking out of his ears. His anxiety was through the roof and getting play time with him was unimaginable. You guessed it, soon he was in a carrier too, although getting him in there was quite hysterical. His first bath was no piece of cake either. To this day, I have to more or less don a haz-mat suit if I wish to walk away with skin on me after the 10-minute ordeal that is equally hard on both of us! But when mommy is allergic to your dander, you just have to suck it up and take your bath 😉

Those were the humble beginnings of my family of three. Being a cat person is all that people tell you it is- it’s about independence and mutual respect, it’s about being equals. But cat people often don’t get the fair credit they deserve. I am the kind of person who, if I had to choose, would find more comfort in loving someone than being loved, in taking care of someone than being cared for, in being responsible for someone than being dependent. I like being the rock, I like being the giver. To love a cat, or two, requires just that. There are times when I break down and cry in front of my cats. Izzie usually walks away and Milo keeps staring at me trying to understand what the heck is wrong with me! It’s not the same when you have a dog around. And while I can’t really squeeze them and hug them like teddy bears, Izzie doesn’t mind waking me up in the middle of night, literally- she keeps gently tapping me with her paw and meowing until I respond. Once I am up, she will snuggle close to me if not ON me, suggesting that I pet her as she falls asleep. If I can’t go back to sleep that’s really my problem, not hers. And Milo doesn’t have much appreciation for sleeping in. Every morning I find him atop me, waiting for his mane and cheeks to be scratched while he purrs away for solid 10 minutes.

So while my little monsters are always hogging my attention and love, always making me wait on them on hand and foot, I am the type of person who can do it. Try asking a dog-person to trade places with me for a day. S/he would probably be devastated by how little gratitude or validation they get in return at the end of the day. I’m not saying that my babies don’t love me. I know they do, I can tell they are glad to see me when I get home, but they don’t believe in making a grand gesture out of it when they see me. If I am home, they are never too far from me, but their way of loving me is to let me be and let me know when they need something. So what does being a cat person mean to me? It means to love and nurture unconditionally, without expecting anything in return 🙂

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