Throughout my lifetime, I have always had a cat or a bird. Animals are just nice to have and to love, they love you back.
My first cat was when I was four or five, I remember tending to her and she would listen to me. I would put clothes on her, cut her whiskers and wait for my return if I had to leave the room. We called her Mama Cat. Yes, I know now that you should never cut their whiskers but at that age, I did not know and apparently those around me did not either. Plus, Mama Cat did not care what I did, she loved me and I loved her.
Off and on, a bird would be part of the family, usually a mean parakeet, we just tolerated them and enjoyed its singing.
I brought a cat home when I still lived with my parents after graduation, which did not go over well. In time, that cat won them over and was spoiled rotten by them and kept them busy and happy. This old cat was named Tom. He kept to himself and would lay at my mom’s feet when she was alive.
Before her passing, there was an old dark, gray stray cat that showed up as did others and mom would tend to them all in the garage, definitely the cat lady. Mom would have boxes stacked with bedding for each one, it was quite a sight. I think every cat in our small town knew my mom, as she would feed them and provided warmth. As family and friends would visit, each just shook their head in disbelief while observing the garage of cat condo units but knowing, too, she was happy to do this for them, all of them.
Years later, my father was nearing death while my sister and I cared for him at home. The old Tom cat was still alive at the age of twenty two, He was a little slow but he stayed around for my dad, I feel. The night before my dad passed away, the old Tom cat went downstairs, usually he did not do that. At his age and an ailing leg, he ran up those steps like he saw a ghost. Somebody mentioned that he saw my mom as she was there for dad. Interesting to consider because it was definitely odd. Then, the old gray stray cat that we called Mama would show her face now and then but had been missing for weeks, if not longer. As you can tell, we do not go crazy with pet names, we use either Tom or Mama. It just works!
Anyway, Mama came in the house that beautiful Saturday morning and she went under my dad’s hospital bed, sitting at the foot of it. Tom was also under his bed, sitting toward the head of the bed. I woke my sister up and told her it was time. How I knew that, I am not for sure except the Lord making me aware, as I was his main caregiver. My sister and I were on each side of the bed with our dad, as he passed. The stray cat, Mama, howled loudly and then left the house, we never saw her again. Tom died just a month or so after my dad. Animals are so in tune with us more than we know.
Now nineteen years later, this past May, we lost our sixteen year old, beautiful Golden Chow dog. We have two indoor cats and they also are getting up in age. In our neighborhood, and for years, there has been a stray cat that looks just my parent’s cat, which was a male and orange in color, so we named it what else, Tom. How could I not care for it? Now realizing I am becoming my mother, the cat lady.
Also, there was a beautiful white stray cat with very little color on her body but her tail is black and brown and she has the softest fur. We always called her Mama, of course, as she had liter after liter and would come to our door on the deck for food. The neighbors that owned her did not care for her properly or the many liters of kittens. Sad. They moved and just left her this past spring, so my husband and I claimed her. Thankfully.
Although, in April she had a liter but we did not know where. I would talk to her and ask where her babies were. Animals listen and understand us, I believe. Still she would eat and leave. On May 5th, we had our sweet dog put down due to Cancer returning with a vengeance. Our hearts were broken with this decision. While trying to capture more photos of her, I took some ‘last’ photos the morning of this dreaded task. I swear she looked at me with those brown eyes as in saying, No More! I told her no more, I promise. I had never had a dog before but this one was the best and we sure miss her.
So, on a lighter note, four days after our dog passed, we came home from work and here Mama cat and her three babies were in our garage, she brought them through the doggy door. It was perfect timing, to help us through the grief and to keep us busy with the three, four-week old kittens, which was new, unfamiliar to us.
Crazy enough, that same day at work, a sweet lady who was just diagnosed with breast cancer, knowing the kittens were born but location unknown, talked with me. I was reminded that she wanted a black cat. Now the Mama cat was mostly white and the odds were slim I told her. Believe it or not, one of the three kittens was a black one. Amazing! Talk about being thrilled is an understatement, not only of the black cat for my co-worker but that Mama cat knew I/we needed them after the passing of our dog, which helped us both immensely in the grieving.
Now, eight months later, these cats are all fixed and think they own our home. Just no more kittens! After years of Mama having so many liters, she was able to care for her kittens and it was a delight to watch how she interacted with them and protected them, still. Of course, my co-worker has the black cat and has helped her, too, while going through cancer treatments. Isn’t it interesting, that these animals had a part in helping each one of us through the years?
I looked at one the other night while I was in the kitchen and said, I cannot believe I/we have all of these cats. Yikes! I had never had over two cats at a time but now six, four of which are inside/outside cats. What is odd, too, is that they come in at bedtime and they all sleep through the night, we have had no issues of them knocking things over, jumping, etc., and then they go out for the day in the morning. So far, so good.
Animals love us when nobody else does, calms our anxious mind and brings joy when there is none. They are worth every penny, the time invested and care so I guess we are stuck with them. Just NO MORE!