Not a litter of kittens. When cat’s adopt people its seldom, if ever, anything newsworthy. I was coming out of a nine year relationship that had more heartbreaks than I care to shake a stick at. I was also going through the emotional upheaval of trying to figure out where I wanted to live and how soon I could fly the coop again. I really didn’t have this event in my life planned out on the ‘what-if’ notion crap would eventually hit the fan like it had.
I don’t remember my first transition of living on my own that overwhelming. In fact, I didn’t really celebrate my [then] new freedom like some young women might. I didn’t drink. I didn’t smoke or party. I was a night owl, but burned the midnight oil quietly since I lived in a tri-plex. I had neighbors that were noisy at all hours day and night though.
I always swore I would not be a ‘cat’ lady and wound up getting a cat when I first lived on my own. Her name was Crissy, and oh, man, if ever there was a cat that was emotionally needy twenty-four hours a day, this cat would have taken the prize. After two weeks or so of being the center of her universe for this needy cat, I put an ad in the paper offering her to another home. So, she was adopted by a total stranger and I never owned a cat after that for many years.
The sweetest (and most unbearably) heart-wrenching event happened some few years later when I resided in Colorado. When cat’s take to one person that’s one thing. When you bottle raise a two-week old kitten abandoned by its cantankerous mother, that teaches you the true meaning of patients, ‘parental’ responsibilities and bonding.
“Pork chop” was his name and he was the kitten that beat all odds. He suffered an eye infection that damaged one of his eyes. The winter was absolutely horrendous this year I recall. And to make an incredibly long story short: Pork chop died after being hit by a car. I was so distraught over his death. I swore up and down I would never own another cat after that. It tore my heart out to bury him.
“You never forget the ear-piercing wail of a kitten meowing at the top of his lungs demanding attention.”
Pork chop did not like being ignored. He hated it. He loved only two people: me and my ex-boyfriend, but mostly he adopted me as ‘his person’. I bottle fed that tiny kitten every morning, noon, and night. The am feedings—were rough on me. If you never had a baby, then this will give you a very good crash course in parenting for the beginner. Those am feedings were the hardest on me. I would get up extremely exhausted and warm up the kitten formula over the stove, then it cool down, fill another kitten bottle and feed Pork chop. And out would come the claws and you had to wear work gloves. His claws were very sharp like tiny razors.
Then he would want to curl up and take a nap. I remember the nights he’d sleep sprawled out on my lap. I’d work at the computer and he would sleep for an hour or so. I grew emotionally attached to the kitten and we formed a bond. And I swore I’d never own another cat.
The day Pork chop passed away, (I didn’t find out until evening) ruined me. He had come a long way and fought a struggle few kittens probably do only to lose his life in a flash. Having pets is an emotional investment and the time we share with them is all too brief in some cases. I loved Pork chop and would pack him around the house with me. He hated it though whenever I’d leave. He’d meow non-stop in a shrill until I returned home. Pork chop and I remained inseparable until the tragic day he lost his life. He was shy of a year old and cute as a button!
Years passed. My relationship went to heck in a hand basket and I returned home. I struggled emotionally and financially to collect myself. I was pretty much teaching myself how to do things, and most importantly, learning to cook. I’m no Betty Crocker that’s for sure. However, I do give it my best.
And the night I moved into my tiny one-bedroom something inhaled the mashed potatoes I pitched on my garden’s compost pile. In fact, I caught the startled gray and white cat hissing at me, guarding that last piece of potato. Since I had no cat food on hand, I returned with some table scraps and dumped them, then waited and watched. This went on routinely for three years until the cat suddenly out of the blue one cold winter day quit hissing at me and purred.
She had warmed up to me and having existed out in those elements since whenever, made her an extremely tough cat. Again, I reminded myself, “No pets.” I didn’t want to become emotionally attached, always worrying about the ‘what if’s’. My new fur ball was street and people smart. She ran fast and stayed gone whenever she didn’t recognize somebody.
During the cold spring of 13’ I was again putting myself through college with the help of FA and learned that it depleted my savings super fast as well. I also remember I couldn’t qualify or had missed the deadline to apply for energy assistance. Therefore, I kept the heat turned low just so the pipes wouldn’t freeze. I relied heavily on a heating pad to keep my feet warm and layered on the clothes and blankets. My cat claimed my house as ‘her own’. She was just nice enough to let me be her live-in servant and during this particular cold snap, she wanted inside.
She looked over one hunched shoulder, eying me. I had proceeded to close the screen door and my heart sank. I couldn’t leave her out in the snowy weather. The temperature was below freezing. I didn’t know how this cat made it as far as she had before I moved in the neighborhood. Cats are resourceful and very adept living through any circumstances. And I simply couldn’t fathom who would move and not take their cat with them.
I opened the door and let her in. She knew the layout extremely well and rubbed her face and whiskers over every object. I dubbed it “showing the love” and she seems happy with that. She eventually licked my fingers, I suppose in cat language this is a sign of acceptance, or ‘ownership’, maybe even contentment. Never before her had a cat licked my fingers except for Pork chop. And from that cold night onward, me and my cat weathered the good with the bad and are two peas in a pod.