My husband and I are “childless,” or “child free”, depending upon how you look at it. I never decided not to have children; I just reached an age when I was not sure I was up to the challenge of raising one.
Well, people say; you have cats instead. Which is true. We have six of them, all rescues. And while I appreciate the clumsy attempts at comforting me for the twinge of missed experience, I find the reference to cats and children disconcerting. I know the difference between a cat and a kid.
Nevertheless, the need to nurture runs strong, and husbands can only get you so far. There is something to be said for a purring cat on your lap on a cold winter’s night.
Let me introduce you to our little family:
The oldest, Simba (“Bean”): Weighed 4 ounces when I found him on the streets of an urban sidewalk over 14 years ago. He was a nasty little cat until we stopped unconsciously feeding into his aggressive behavior by playing too much with him. Since changing how we responded to his biting and scratching, he has become a sweet and social little cat. He still has a temper; however, so we give him a wide berth if he has his “mad face” on.
Sparkle (“Miss Malarkle”) is everyone’s favorite. She is bright, articulate in her trills and purrs, wraps her front legs around your neck when you pick her up and snuggles under your chin. She is Top Cat among the pride, and can often bring order to a brewing cat argument by pinning them with a stare.
Willow (“The Pillow”): Was adopted as an adult cat from the local animal shelter after our beloved older cat, Ashley, died of old age. Not the brightest bulb in the box but she makes up for it with her affectionate personality.
Scooter ( “ScooterPie”) is named after what he does best. He scoots under the bed whenever visitors arrive, when there are strange noises in or around the house, if we get up too quickly or for no reason at all. Scooter was one of the “unlikely to be adopted adult feral cats” when I volunteered at the animal shelter a few years ago. Every week, he would follow me around while I cleaned the cattery, where over 35 cats roamed through two adjoining rooms. Whenever I stopped to take a break, he would appear and sit on my foot. One day, after disinfecting and hosing down the floor (which was when all the cats disappeared into the adjacent room) I thought, “If that cat comes in now with the floor all wet, I am going to bring him home.” Two minutes later, he walked across the dripping floor and sat down next to me. I brought him home.
Macy Gray: Lived in her owner’s yard and was cared for only when the guy remembered to feed her. Thin and frightened, a neighbor swooped in to the rescue and brought her to the vet. We already had 4 cats at the time, and I had promised my husband “no more cats” but when I turned down the vet’s offer to adopt her, my husband said, “What? You’re not going to give her a chance?”
I went back and got her.
Ken glanced up at the name of the cage. The kitten’s name was Bear.
What else could we do? We had been asking for Bear to come back into our lives, and here he was. Bear came back, and now sleeps on our bed once again.
Maybe when all is said and done, there are some similarities between cats and children. We love them both, unconditionally and completely. I wouldn’t give them up for all the world’s riches.