In writing about all things tender, I would be remiss to leave out a few very important members of my family, my pets. Growing up we had hamsters (vile creatures), fish, and most commonly cats. There are pictures of me as a baby leaning onto a reclining fat cat, affectionately named Elro. After Elro had left us, we adopted Figaro who quickly decided that we were not his forever family and he took off into the big world. Figgy then graced our lives with her presence although she was the runt of her litter, very skittish, and preferred to be adored from a distance. While Figgy was making herself comfortable in the dark corners of our house, my dad came upon a kitten who had taken up residence in the warehouse where he worked. Learning of this lost little kitten, my brother and I waged a war to bring her into our home and make her ours. We won that battle, and home came Charcoal.
Charcoal was the first cat that I really remember being a complete and wonderful pet. She was cute, with her nose split black on one side and white on the other. She was friendly, LOVED to be pet (almost to a fault), prowled outside during the day, curled up inside at night and shed enough fur to make an afghan. It didn’t matter to Charcoal if you like her or not, she liked you. Anyone who showed her the least bit of attention would instantly become a best friend who no doubt wanted to pet her for the entire duration of their visit. At least as far as she was concerned. She was also the only one who could get close to Figgy. Those kitties, and a strange adopted dove who lived in our bathroom, rounded out my childhood family until I went off to college.
I will say that I liked those cats, they were always there and were unconditionally loving to me. However, I didn’t understand the deep love that people had for pets, or animals for that matter, until as adults I convinced my husband that we needed to adopt a cat here in Idaho. Luke was working and going to school full time and I spent a lot of time home alone. I was convinced that with a little furry companion my life would be complete.
The only option for me was to adopt from the Idaho Humane Society. By adopting from the shelter I knew I would get an animal that was spayed/neutered, supporting an organization that protects animals from abuse, and I would get to pick my forever friend. I wanted a younger animal as I figured it would be easier to “train” and it had to be a short haired cat. I should say that I would have gotten a dog, but my husband was the heavy and would only agree to a cat. No worries, cats are good, I know cats.
I went to the Humane Society a few times, waiting to meet just the right kitty to bring into our family. I would know the right animal and was willing to wait. On my third or fourth visit I walked into the kitty room and there he was. A kitten, staring at me, willing me to come and pet him. I washed my hands and opened his cage and he immediately rolled over on his back like a dog, encouraging me to rub his pristine white belly. He was the one! I called Luke, had to sleep on it for a night and then scurried back the next day to adopt my new forever friend. I paid the fee and signed all the papers to have him fixed. Instructed to pick him up the following day I went out and purchased the required kitty accessories. It was thrilling.
The next day I picked him up from the vet clinic and brought him home. Maybe it was the drugs he was coming off of, maybe it was because his manhood had been taken from him, who knows why, but my little 8 month old kitten was not too thrilled to be at our house and was more then happy to hide in the darkest, hardest to find corners. It wasn’t going the way I planned, but I was encouraged to hear him running all over the house in the dark of the night. At least he was still alive! The next day, when no progress had been made, I went so far as to consider returning him. He was not the cute cuddly kitty I had dreamed of. My husband told me to get over it and make friends with this cat, he was ours now.
Eventually we became friendly, this cat and I, but for some reason we could never get it together to name him and he became known as Kitty. While he was akin to my previous cat Figgy in the sense that he was what I’ll call independent, he is the prettiest cat I have ever had. His coloring is perfectly symmetrical, he has eyes lined in black, four perfectly white paws, and a beautiful white underbelly that looks like a collar when he sits. His fur is soft, his eyes piercing, and he still rolls on his back when he wants you to rub his belly. He loves to curl up on Luke’s lap and sleep for hours. My husband has that cool attitude that Kitty respects. I, however, tend to be a little more firm in my love for cats which Kitty can only stand in small bits. Make no mistake, any affection shown to him is always on his terms. What he lacks in kitty affection he makes up for in beauty. It’s not easy being that good looking. Our friends rarely see him when they visit, but here’s a picture to attest to his good looks.
Big Kitty likes a good suit case
After about two years I decided that Kitty needed a companion. I don’t know why, since he’s not particularly affectionate, but it was somehow necessary. My husband was convinced and I was ready to begin the search for our next pet. This pet would again be short haired, but would be female, and I was bound and determined to make it into a lap cat. I decided I needed a very new kitten, 6-8 weeks old would be perfect. This would be the cat that I would raise in my arms and wouldn’t be afraid of people.
Lucky for us it was springtime and prime kitten season at the Humane Society. We had our pick of cute kittens. We scoured the cat room and carefully watched as all the kittens interacted. I wanted a calm one who wasn’t afraid of my hand. We came upon a cage with two female kittens. They weren’t as pretty as some of the other ones, but they weren’t attacking each other like wild beasts either. We decided to give it a day and if they were there the next day, we would pick one.
Upon our return they were both still there. I was ready to pick just one, but Luke ever the softy, couldn’t allow us to leave just one of the sisters behind, alone in the cold shelter. Two?! Who was this man? I didn’t care, he said we could get them both and I wasn’t going to question him, we were getting two babies! They were 7 weeks old. We had them fixed and brought them home. The two sisters were ours and they needed names. We couldn’t have Kitties 1, 2, and 3. I named one Olive (after Olive Oil in Popeye) and Luke named the gray one Misty. They were perfect. They soothed each other and weren’t afraid of my obsessive cuddling. They lived in the bathroom for the first week. The bathtub to be exact.
Misty and Olive
Misty is mostly gray with white around her mouth and white eyebrows. She is affectionately known as the princess. She got this nickname because she doesn’t like to go out in the cold, prefers to hang with people when they’re around, and instead of being pet by your hand prefers that you hold it out so she can preen against it herself, and she’s quite talkative especially when she’s hungry. Misty is always curious about anyone or anything that comes into the house and she isn’t afraid to come over and give it a good sniff. She also purrs like a motorboat. She’ll curl up in your lap and nap with you, but it’s taken awhile for her to get used to being held. Luckily, I was very hands on with my kittens and she has learned that to resist my love is futile. She always wants your attention, and the only way to disarm her incessant prodding is what I call “corporal cuddling”. She really is a sweetheart.
Olive, then, is Misty’s sister. I have to say that getting two kittens who are related was a great choice. They always had each other which has made them confident and playful pets. Olive is very different from her sister. She has dark calico coloring and a nose that is split colors, much like Charcoal. She has heavy eye lids, is almost too easy going, and can almost always be found napping on Luke’s office chair. When she’s not on the chair, because Luke is there, she’s napping right on his lap, pressed onto his desk. Olive is like a rag doll. She doesn’t resist being held in any position, when you go to pet her, or push her out of the way she will often simply fall over, and she always has a look on her face that says, “I’m confused?” She is the kitty of my dreams, and even though I probably shouldn’t say it, she’s my favorite. Except for that time when I opened a 500 degree oven and she decided that maybe she should get a closer look. I had to grab her mid leap into the oven. She doesn’t always show the soundest judgment, but she makes up for it with her tender heart.
So there they are, my three cats. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m now a crazy cat lady. I feed my cats raw food, make them wear tinker bells around their necks when they go outside, and have scratching posts around my home. They have provided us with so much entertainment, happiness, the occasional hissyfit (on my part) and overwhelming joy. I have never loved animals as much as I have loved these three. They each have very distinct personalities, and I feel privileged that I get to know them better then anyone. Even Luke, who wasn’t so sure about getting pets in the beginning, truly loves our cats. I’ve even taken to calling him the cat whisperer. His own gentle attitude and tender hand have endeared him to our cats. And me, well I’m their mom. The kittens, at least, always come when I call, or cluck. Once we got the kittens, Kitty became known as Big Kitty, which is hilarious, because now he’s the smallest cat in the house, but he has a big presence. I don’t know if he would have agreed with me when I initially thought he needed a companion, but I’m pretty sure now that those pesky kittens have grown on him. We’re one big crazy kitty loving family.
Something about a warm computer that puts a kitty right to sleep.
Napping on Luke’s chair, a favorite past time
Crazy kitty lady
Big Kitty cleaning Olive’s ear. She’s confused.