11: Those Other Cats

11: Those Other Cats

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Those Other Cats

Any conditioned cat-hater can be won over by any cat who chooses to make the effort.

~Paul Corey, Do Cats Think?

The ring was on my finger and my name was changed before I learned my husband hated cats — not that he’d ever had one. He just knew he didn’t like them.

“Cats are sneaky, and they don’t come when they’re called,” he said.

Since we were newly married, without pets, I shrugged away his attitude as irrelevant. Years later, we bought a home on five acres and soon learned motorists used our road to drop off unwanted pets. We’d acquired two dogs and a white rabbit before the skinny kitten huddled under our porch. The kids found it. I brought it inside. After it gulped down a can of tuna, I took a long look at the tiny thing. With barely enough fur to cover it, it was still shivering when my husband appeared.

“Take it to the pound,” he said.

“Nope. As far as I’m concerned, it can stay. If you want it to go to the pound, you’ll have to take it there,” I said, and handed him the kitten.

He started the car, kitten on the front seat, and drove away. After a couple of hours, he returned. He brought a padded circular pet bed, a bag of litter, a bag of kitten food, a dozen cans of kitten formula and a cardboard cat carrier into the kitchen. I lowered my chin and stared at him over the rim of my eyeglasses.

He shrugged and grinned sheepishly. I said nothing and kept staring at him. He gave out a big sigh.

“Her name’s Baby. I had to tell the vet something. He asked me what the cat’s name was.”

“The vet?” I asked. “The pound has a vet?”

Another big sigh huffed out of him.

“No, by the time I got to the end of the driveway, she’d curled up against my leg and the dang thing kept purring, so I rubbed her head. By the time I got to the pound’s parking lot, she’d laid her head on my thigh and was asleep.”

I wanted to laugh but knew not to. “So you decided to take it to the vet first?”

“Not an it, a she. That’s what the vet said. He said I should bring her back before she’s a year so he can spay her, unless I want more kittens.” He walked over to our wall calendar, flipped pages and circled March, five months away.

Our four-year-old opened the cat carrier and reached inside. My husband lunged, grabbed the kitten, hugged her against him.

“She’s easy to hurt, honey. You can hold her but you can’t squeeze her,” he said as he cuddled the kitten against his chest.

“So, all it took to change your opinion of cats is one who fell asleep in the car?” I asked.

He tilted his head, studied the ceiling, then leaned close to me, staring into my eyes.

“The difference, you see,” he said, hesitating between words, “is she’s not one of those cats. She’s my cat.”

~Alvena Stanfield

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