I want a freakin’ cat.
We have a dog. I love her, I really do. I love that she is excited when company comes and makes them feel all warm (especially when she pees on them), that she is gentle with all children, and that when she has to go out she bucks her hind legs like she’s a little bull.
But I’m a cat person. The Husband is decidedly NOT. It all stems from a bad experience where a kitten decided his nipple was a great place to hang out. I think another cat may have done something to traumatize him, like scratch him when it had clearly wanted attention and all he was doing was petting her, but the nipple story is just funnier.
Anyway, I have had 9 cats. Yeah, 9. Nine cats that I have had to part with too early. Allow me to explain as I turn this into one of my lists of 10. (If you read to the end, you’ll get it.)
1. Miss Lily
Miss Lily was an older cat that was given to our family and I think my mom took the cat as a starter pet for us, to see if we could handle it. Well, not only did we get trained on the general maintenance of all things feline, we got to experience a cat falling ill and subsequently dying. I believe it was leukemia that Miss Lily contracted somehow, and I knew as I was riding off to a Dirty Dancing Live concert with a friend and her mom that my mom and my sister were taking Miss Lily to the vet and I wasn’t going to see her again.
(Uhm, I promise not all the stories are this dark. I think.)
Not long after Miss Lily’s untimely departure, my mom had a friend whose cat had kittens, and Mom drove us to their house to pick out a little furry bundle. I think I was 13 and my sister was 10. We each got to select a kitten. My sister had a little furry girl kitty, I had a little furry boy kitty. We climbed into the backseat of Mom’s gray Buick and cuddled those balls of fur. My sister declared her cat to be “Babe” (long before the pig movie, so I’m not sure how she came up with that) and I silently named mine “Prince” — and I don’t know why. My mom got behind the wheel and I saw her look back at us with a thoughtful and sad expression on her face. Then she looked forward and I knew her mind was working. As she was saying, “One of them has to go back,” I was figuring it out — two sets of shots, two sets of poop, two cats that might not be taken care of well by two young girls who hadn’t had much experience with pets. Without hesitation I volunteered my little Prince, and Mom took him back inside.
Babe was just as much my cat as she was anyone else’s in the family. I don’t remember much about Babe, except that she never managed to poop in the litter box, she always found the same spot to go in. No matter what we tried, she would only go in one corner of the house. I believe the vet suggested we just move the litter box there. Seems perfectly logical, except that Babe’s corner was in the dining room. I don’t remember how long my parents tried to get that cat to go in the litter box elsewhere, but eventually it did come to rest in the dining room. I never thought anything of it — I was 13 and I didn’t realize that it could be considered unsanitary. (And here I live to tell the tale, so I guess we’re all okay.)
Babe lived a long life, maybe too long, and eventually went to Kitty Heaven, where the streets are paved with catnip and there’s a fish for every feline. But quite a bit before she passed, I moved on to…
4. Kitty Cat
When I was 16, I moved in with my grandmother. Nothing really dramatic happened, she had emphysema and needed someone to look after her a little more. She had a cat named Kitty Cat. I don’t remember when it happened, but Kitty Cat started to eat less and move slower. She wasn’t that old and the vet thought it would pass. Well, she passed. I came in to the kitchen and found her resting in peace at her water dish.
After Kitty Cat, Granny wanted another cat. I don’t know if it was more for me or for her. So my mom, sister and I went to the pound to see if we could find an older cat who was fixed and declawed. There was Barney, who originally I thought was not the most attractive cat. He was big, gray and white, and I thought his yellow/green eyes were kind of set far apart. Barney grew on me, though, and he was a sweet cat who loved Granny and would even tell her when it was time for her to go to bed. Seriously! When it got around the time she would normally retire to her room, he would start to pace from her chair in the living room to the hallway, back and forth. Too funny! I went away to college during the reign of Barney, and during my second year, I got a call that Barney had passed away.
Uhm, yeah… I said not so dark, right?
6. & 7. Fred & Li’l Bit
Two in one — and I’m kind of stretching here because they weren’t really mine, but I still had to part with them and this is my list so I’ll add whichever cats I want to thankyouverymuch! Granny got Fred while I was away at college as a playmate for Barney. His name wasn’t really Fred, but she thought “Fred & Barney” was funny. Then Li’l Bit came along. The best I can remember, Li’l Bit was a stray that had wandered into the neighborhood and Granny’s neighbor thought she’d be great for Fred. So Fred and Li’l Bit lived at Granny’s and I got to enjoy them while I stayed with her in between getting married and divorced and having a jerk boyfriend and getting married again. Then when Granny passed away, I was married with a dog and living in a one-bedroom condo, so I couldn’t take them in. They went to the sweet neighbor of Granny’s, who already had at least a half dozen cats of her own. They’re still there.
Six months into the Marriage of Doom, The Wolf did something shockingly sweet. He got us a kitten. He even surprised me with it. I was visiting Granny, something I did on a weekly basis, and he called and told me I needed to come home because there was a leak in our apartment again. I went home and he said, “The carpet in the closet is soaking wet again,” so I went to check it out. I knelt down to feel the floor, and there looking up at me was a little white kitten with big gray spots, and the bushiest tail I have ever seen. Valentino was named because he arrived at our home around Valentine’s Day (and my birthday), and The Wolf had a thing for Mafia movies, so it was an attempt to make the name sound kind of Italian. Valentino lived up to his name — he was the most loving cat EVER. When people came over, he would weave in and out of their shins, purring away. When we sat down, he would put his paws on our knees and stretch his little face up until we touched his nose with ours. I have never seen a sweeter cat to this day.
When The Wolf left, Valentino went with him. Don’t cry for me, Argentina — there was good reason. We weren’t sure that The Wolf was quite stable (having been put on suicide watch when he was taken to jail… Have I not told you that story yet?), and we knew that if he had to take care of the cat, he would take care of himself. To the best of my knowledge, Valentino is still around and living with The Wolf at his parents’ house.
One night The Ex-Boyfriend (I will come up with a clever name later, because I’m trying to keep this PG-13 and no safe names are coming to me) and I were at the mall with a friend of mine. We went to the pet store and I had to play with the kittens that were there. Had to! The Ex-Boyfriend decided I was adorable with the kittens and got me one. Right there on the spot! I was floored. The name Kobe was picked because he was a huge Lakers fan, and I wanted to give the kitten a name that showed The Ex-Boyfriend how much I appreciated the gesture.
Kobe never had to deal with the wrath of The Ex-Boyfriend. She was kind of a little brat. She ran and hid very well when he’d get angry, even though he’d never lay a hand on her. She would look at me as if to say, “You’re on your own, genius!” and would come out when the storm had passed. When I left, Kobe stayed. Last I heard, she was fat and happy, and probably gets treated better than any of the other women in his life.
10. My 40th Birthday Present
I have told The Husband that I want a cat. He knows. I have gotten my oldest daughter on my side. She tells her daddy how much she wants a cat — I’m teaching her to bat her eyelashes and pout. He isn’t waivering, and any time I mention it he starts shifting uncomfortably and scratching his chest, right around his nipple. I told him I’d wait until my 40th birthday. That’s ever so practical of me — the girls will be 13 and 10 that year, perfect ages to introduce a kitten. I want a male cat, and even told The Husband we could name the cat Marino, or maybe even Teal’c. But then… Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll name the cat something that reflects my interests. Maybe Ken Adams or Crap Bag. SAWYER! I would love a cat named Sawyer…
Only 2,751 days until I meet Sawyer. He will be mine. Oh yes. He will be mine.