27: All My Children Wear Fur Coats

27: All My Children Wear Fur Coats

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat

All My Children Wear Fur Coats

Fun fact: All kittens are born with blue eyes, which will change by the time they’re eight weeks old. Kittens’ eyes remain closed until they’re ten to fourteen days old.

My fiancé knew all about my love of cats up front and I began my “kitten campaign” in earnest less than a week after the wedding. Whenever I broached the subject, Mark shot me “the look,” indicating further cat conversation was futile.

One glorious fall day, in our sixth month of marriage, everything changed. Mark walked into the living room and announced, “Okay, we can get a cat.” Before I could respond, he moved close, pointed his coffee cup at me, narrowed his eyes and pronounced, “But you have to clean the litter box.”

I jumped into his arms. I would have agreed to the daily cleaning of the elephant cage at the zoo if it meant bringing a kitten into our home.

Before he changed his mind or added any more stipulations, I grabbed his hand and dragged him out the door to begin our kitten quest.

The day we met our kitten is still one of my best memories. The shelter worker opened the cage and handed me a sweet ball of vibrating fur. I called Mark over to meet the enchanting Tabby-Siamese mix. As he approached, I rehearsed my case for bringing her home, but she took matters into her own paws. Settling into his hands, she leaned forward, put a tiny paw on his arm, blinked deep blue eyes and licked his face. The deal was sealed. He fell in love.

That sassy kitten filled our house with love, laughter and copious amounts of fur. She charmed us, entertained us, slept with us, and demanded our full attention and devotion.

I confess, without shame or apology, that we were putty in the paws of our furry diva. There were no beds soft enough, no toys interesting enough, no food healthy enough for our princess. Laser-focused on everything and anything that made her happy, we began to wonder if she might benefit from some companionship during the lonely hours we were away at work. I must confess there was another reason for considering companionship for her. It had to do with the discovery of an antique glass plate (an heirloom given to me by my mother-in-law), reduced to a pile of glittery dust on the tiles of the fireplace hearth.

We chose a long-haired, coal-black, green-eyed boy with the perfect, easygoing temperament needed to deal with the feisty Miss P and then we crossed our fingers and held our breath when they first met. Miss P sashayed toward the kitten, sniffed his coat, stared for a second, turned her back, and waltzed away, flicking her tail and shooting him a disdainful look. I swear I could hear her saying, “Get out of my way, Buster. You’d better behave yourself, Buster. Just remember who’s in charge here, Buster!” We named him Buster.

Miss P and Buster settled into a harmonious existence. Their relationship was drama-free; she let him know she was the queen, and he acknowledged her superiority and sovereignty.

When Miss P reached her eighth birthday, we began another kitten search. We filled out two pages of forms for the rescue organization and had our home checked out by the kitten foster mother. Finally, deemed “kitten-worthy,” we went to pick up our delightful female Lilac Point. As we moved toward the cat carrier to secure our new kitten, the “foster cat lady” picked up a little male, shoved him toward us and exclaimed, “These two are brother and sister and best friends. I simply couldn’t separate them.” This information might have been helpful earlier, but we fell for his crossed eyes and sweet face and drove home with two new companions for Miss P and Buster to meet.

The two “best friends,” Tucker and Jasmine, proved to be anything but best friends. To this day, they tolerate each other, but exhibit no desire to spend quality time together. Note to self: Don’t always believe everything the foster cat lady tells you.

Over the years, our feline family has become an important part of our lives. When I’m sick, a cat is always ready to cuddle the “patient” to sleep. When I cry, a furry, purry body presses in close, sometimes extending a paw (claws pulled in) to gently tap my face, letting me know everything will be okay (or to remind me to get up and feed them dinner). They even do us the honor of “singing the song of their people” in the wee hours of the morning.

I am childless by circumstance, not by choice. I used to avoid Mother’s Day celebrations and felt empty and awkward at baby showers. In the course of emptying litter boxes, searching for delightful and delicious treats, and educating myself on the benefits of organic catnip, the empty “mother’s hole” in my heart has healed in a way I’d never expected.

My feline family has taught me three valuable life lessons. First, happiness comes when I focus on what I have, rather than what is missing in my life. Second, I must never diminish the love in my life because it doesn’t look exactly like the love in the lives of others. The third lesson was this: Family isn’t always comprised of blood relations, nor is it necessarily comprised of humans.

People can be judgmental: “Four cats? No kids?” “Really, you seem to expend too much energy, love and money on those cats.” “I understand you love your pets, but they are animals, not children!”

I let them prattle on. They don’t know my story; they haven’t walked beside me through my painful, childless journey. They see cats; I see healers of my heart.

“Crazy Cat Lady” is a title I wear proudly. The mockers don’t understand that it’s precisely because of my cats that I have not gone crazy. I am the recipient of the unconditional love of fantastic little beings who look to me to care for them, protect them and return their love in abundance.

The felines I share my life with today continue the journey of healing that began twenty years ago, the day I looked into the blue eyes of a special kitten. If that makes me a “crazy cat lady,” then call me crazy.

~Anita Aurit

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