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She's Just a Cat
I was never a fan of cats. In fact, I never loved a single being of the feline species. When I was about six years old, I had my first encounter with one. My cousin Joe had a small cat named Naomi. She was an elegant and loving animal, who cherished her owners Joe and Jeffry over everyone else that it had ever come across. My cousin Joe was like an older brother to me, who at the time would read me bedtime stories, and play with me whenever he visited. Anything that understood how much of a warm person he was, had to be a warm existence itself. But I was sadly mistaken. At first, the cat was a beautiful and peaceful animal, but when it came time for me to attempt petting her. She became one of the most terrifying things I had ever come upon. With a hiss and a raise of her paw, I jolted back and held my hand close to my lips. A small drip of blood slipped down my fingertip, and my innocent eyes cried tears of fear. It was final, I hated this cat. For the next 9 years of my life, regardless of Joe’s constant attempts to get me and Naomi to become friends, we still engaged in arguments. Her hissing, and my shooing became an event that would occur whenever I visited their house.
“It’s just a small little cat.” my cousins used to always say, “she’s more afraid of you then you are of her!” All through their constant reminder of the fact that I was triple her size. I didn’t believe she was just a cat, but something more on the side of evil spawn of satan.
At times when I slept over, I would have to keep an eye open for the beast. To catch its enemy at its weakest would probably be the best choice for any animal of the cat family. One night, I was awoken by the strongest feeling that anyone can get in their sleep. The need to pee. Before I could break the comfort of the couch I had made my nest that night, my eyes caught a small flicker of light in the direction of the door. I stared into the unblinking eyes of the cat, as it seemingly kept me frozen to the couch.
Shoo! I whispered, but it had no effect. Maybe it was the darkness of the room, or my inability to remember where the light switch was. But the entire time I felt as if I was trapped in the grasp of the little fur ball. I could not see its body at all. The only thing I could make out in the darkness was its glowing cat eyes- knowing that a clawed feline that had hated me so, could see me perfectly when I couldn’t even see its face. Put a chill down my spine. I stayed in the couch, wide awake until the sun had risen. Holding my bladder for hours, in what seemed to feel like days. My hatred for the putrid beast grew from that encounter. I no longer resented it, but was now engulfed by loathe for it. Before I knew it, my hatred for the single animal, spread to every other cat I came across. Not once had I shared my food with a stray feline, like I would have with a stray dog. Never attempted to pet a cat nor cradle it in my arms at any of my friend’s houses. Until the day a phone call had changed all that.
“Hey man, have you seen Naomi around?” Joe asked over the phone. “I haven't seen her in a couple of days, and everyone said she might have walked out the house.” Over the years Joe had gotten older of course, and because of that had moved out. Now that he was no longer living in his parent’s house, which was also the home of Naomi, he couldn’t always keep an eye on her. When he came to visit, he was alarmed by the sudden truth that she had gone missing, and almost no one else had even noticed except Jeffry. He went on a frenzied search for her, only to come up with nothing, day after day.
Finally, I thought. That wretched cat is gone. My first feelings flooded my mind. The relief of no longer having to be scratched at, or hissed at settled me and brought a vague soundness to my heart. Until the day I went to visit my cousin’s house again, and I sat in the same living room that the cat had terrorized me in for years. There was nothing. No sound of a cat tip toeing on its light feet throughout the house. No hissing, no fear of having to look over my shoulder every five minutes. In the end, the silence resonated with my mind, and the truth that I had always knew came whispering in my ears. I never hated the cat. I just wanted to pet her once. That’s all, just once. I rose from the house and went searching for her. The first day was an utter failure. Not a single cat fair or clue could be found. It was like she just vanished. The next day when I was simply walking to go visit my cousin. I caught a glimpse of his next door neighbor standing outside trying to remove the cover to the outside entrance of his basement.
“What’s up man?” I asked, crossing the street slowly.
“There’s a cat stuck in between the entrance and the cover.” He answered. “It’s been there for days.” I sprung up and took a gaze into the darkness that existed in the small space, and saw the same eyes that had looked at me during every night I spent at my cousin’s house. Instead of the hatred it always held, this time... deep in the eyes I saw something else. That look was simply hope, with a saddening look of fear. I retreated to my cousin’s house as fast as my feet could take me, and found my cousin Steven in his room.
“I found Naomi” I called out, “She’s right next door!” he came outside quickly, and used a kissing noise that immediately got her to crawl out of the cellar. She couldn’t do it alone, so Steven reached in as far as he could, and pulled her out. The second I saw her, my hatred had completely dispersed. She wasn’t the ultimate evil, or some dark offspring of the devil. She was a normal, scared, and now sick cat. Her fur had become dark and discolored. She was covered in injury and could barely even walk. In a rush she was given water and a can of cat food. She gobbled it up in seconds, yet still looked sick and tired. Instinctively I reached out, and petted her gently for the first time in my life. Our eyes met, and on the inside of both of them, you could see exactly what we both felt.
The time passed quickly, and Steven had decided to take her to the vet as soon as possible.
“I’ll take her first thing tomorrow.” He decided, knowing that it’ll be impossible to make an immediate checkup. By the next morning, I had gotten a phone call from my cousin Joe. His voice was deep and slow as he told me words that I didn’t want to hear.
“She died this morning. She was real sick.” I understood and quietly sat in my room. The cat that I once hated so feverishly now brought tears to my eyes as I remembered our constant banter. Year after year of simply wanting to just pet her had gone by, and it didn’t feel as if it was just the death of an animal. It felt as if I lost a family member, a sister even. The next time I slept over at my cousin’s house, my eyes peered into the darkness. Hoping to find glowing eyes, that I knew, I’d never, ever, see again.