I remember my mom telling me about how hard it was to potty train Schatzie and thinking that it was a nice karmic justice. "She'd have been a lot easier to train if you had gotten her before I left," I thought.
Fortunately, Schatzie is a friendly little critter and still loves me when I come to visit, even though I don't see her more than a few times a year. She comes and sleeps on my bed with me and paws at my door to come in for a belly rub. She sits by my chair at dinner (when Dad isn't there) and begs for food (because I'm an easy target.) It's a great thing. It also meant that I knew I wanted pets of my own as soon as I could get them.
I anticipated getting a dog. I love dogs. I love their open affection. I love teaching them tricks and watching them bark at paper bags. I love how eager they are to please and how much personality they ooze when you get to know them. The problem with dogs is how high maintenance they are, though - not ideal for a person who lives alone, works all day, and is often at rehearsal all night. The poor dog would be miserably lonely.
Cat it is. I'm already a Utah old maid. Why not add crazy cat lady into the bargain, right?
Cats are generally introverted, independent little souls. I'd grown up around them too - mostly my grandparents' cats that hated when we came because it meant being shut up somewhere to save my dad and brothers the allergies. But I'd had fish (boring) and spent a weekend taking care of a class hamster (smelly) and knew that if I could find the right cat, it would be kismet.
So I went to the local Best Friends Animal Society website and searched for adult shorthaired cats that were under the age of five and over the age of one. I wrote down the names of all the kitties that looked cute in their pictures and took the list (and an army of help from friends) to the shelter, expecting that I would give them the list and they would present me with the cats for inspection.
Nope. The shelter is made up of a series of glass-walled cat "hotels" that you can walk into and play with cats at will. The list I made went out the door and I spent the next hour going from room to room trying to find some kitty that I connected with in some way.
She was in the first of the rooms by the desk on her back legs, looking right at me and pawing at the door. And she had those massive eyes and I picked her up and she purred and purred and I HAD TO TAKE HER.
And re-name her. She was "Pumpkin" before I got her. False. What a horrid name for a cat. I came armed with a list of Shakespearean inspired name candidates, but she was such a little waif that I couldn't name her "Beatrice" so Izzy it was, named for one of my favorite characters on television and inspired by Isolde of ancient Tristan and Isolde fame. Funny thing was, she was the first cat on my list, and I didn't even realize it until I had already decided she was supposed to be mine. And she came home with me. And she purred and purred and purred.
Then she pooped.
And it smelled terrible.
And I thought WHAT THE @#$& DID I JUST DO TO MYSELF. I am now responsible for this creature. I am sharing a space with her. I am voluntarily cleaning her poop and she's getting fur everywhere and she could live FOREVER. I DON'T THINK I'M READY FOR THAT KIND OF COMMITMENT!!
But then she did this
|She sleeps with her paws like I sleep with my arms and legs. We're twins!|
|Yup. First night she spent with me and she fell asleep on my lap.|
|LOOK AT THAT BELLY.|
And my post-pet-partum ebbed away and made room for a furry little critter who gets into mischief now and then, but mostly just keeps me company and makes sure that I'm never alone. I love the "uh" pout she makes when I pick her up to cuddle when she doesn't want to, but tolerates that I want to. I love when she comes and curls up next to me to sleep like it's the safest place in the world. I like when she sits in front of my phone to get attention. I like playing cat volleyball with her. I love that when I'm sad or disappointed or depressed I can count on a non-judgmental being to come hop up next to me and make the space a little less empty. Now I can say with confidence: my children, should they ever exist, will never be replaced by a pet. They'll just always have one around.