December 6, 2009
By Schala BRONZE, Jonesville, Michigan
Schala BRONZE, Jonesville, Michigan
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Have you ever heard any stories about an “old catlady”? The ones about the old woman living “alone” with about twenty cats? I’ve always been saddened by those stories—not because the woman doesn’t have anyone, but because no one seems to realize that she isn’t alone. Now don’t get me wrong, I like people, but cats have personalities too. They are individuals; each one is unique. Don’t believe me? Over the course of my life, my family has had six cats—each one with their own quirks. They are members of my family. Let me tell you some stories.

My family’s oldest cat, Misha, was around before my mother even met my father. I grew up with him. He was the true head of the household, and he was the one calling the shots. When everyone came home we had to remember to pet him. Misha lived almost twenty years before he died, and when he did, it was on his own terms. He had recently had a stroke, and was in a lot of pain. My parents had decided to take him to the vet, and were struggling with the fact that the only option would be to euthanize him. He passed away the day before he was supposed to go. We all figured that since he was the boss, he wanted to go out his own way. Everyone misses him. He was a constant in our lives for so long.

While Pete wasn’t around as long as Misha, he still left his mark. My mother would often tell a certain story. It goes something like this: My father and Pete had been outside (Pete was both an indoor and outdoor cat) for a few hours. Pete came triumphantly back to the door, where my mother was standing, and offered her a gift. Unfortunately, said gift happened to be a mouse. Now, it’s true that it’s the thought that counts, but my mother hated mice. Even dead ones. So, as you can understand, she was suitably upset. She refused to let my father or Pete in until the mouse was gone. In the end, my father had to take the mouse from a poor, confused Pete in order to get inside the house. Several years after that incident, Pete was hit and killed by a car. Even after his death, my family was able to remember him fondly.

Both Pete and Misha have forever left a mark on my family that still exists long after their deaths. We currently have four cats who continue to change our lives. The oldest, and the only female cat we’ve ever owned, is Sassy. We rescued her from a kennel, where someone dropped her off—saying he was going on a vacation—and never came back for her. My mother and I had gone to pick up our dog at the kennel, and the person there told us that the telephone number she had been given didn’t work, and Sassy’s original owner had apparently moved without notifying her. My mother and I decided to take her with us, so she wouldn’t end up being taken to the Animal Shelter. She lives up to her name. Whenever she wants attention, she meows. Whenever the boys get too rambunctious, she’s the one who chews them out. She also chews us out when we don’t pay enough attention to her. At one point, Sassy had a stroke, and stopped eating. We had been told that it would either heal on its own, or she would die. My mother managed to do something even after we were told that there was little hope. She noticed that Sassy was still cleaning herself, so she smeared food on her paws. Soon, Sassy began to eat again. She made a full recovery, and is currently healthy. After this experience, I have come to completely understand the reason why people pay for expensive operations for their pets. Had we been faced with a scenario where surgery was the only way, I don’t think any of us would have hesitated—no matter the cost.

Cisco is our oldest male cat. We rescued him from a shelter. He’s a true example of a “scaredy cat”: easily startled and quick to run. But even with that, he loves to come up to us and demand attention. He also always has to feign indifference when we give him food. He sniffs it, leaves, and then comes back a few minutes later to eat—which often doesn’t work very well, since one of the other cats usually takes it while he’s gone. Cisco is definitely one of the more quirky cats, but we love him all the more for it.

One of our newer cats is Felix. My brother and father found him while they were out running. He was a tiny kitten, and he crawled out of the bushes and followed them down the road, meowing all the way. When we first took him in, he could easily fit in the palm of my hand, and his favorite spot to sleep was in the crook of a person’s neck. We had to teach him how to eat, and because he was so young, he’s grown quite attached. My mother originally said that we couldn’t keep him, but in a few days, that had changed. Now, he’s a lot bigger than he was, and he no longer fits in the crook of my neck, but he still loves to cuddle.

Our youngest—and strangely enough, our largest—cat is Ferris. He’s either a Norwegian Forest cat or a Maine Coon—we’re not entirely sure which. Somehow, he found his way into our garage during the winter. A storm was on its way, and the temperature was close to zero. We could hear him meowing in the garage, so we went out and brought him inside. There, he proceeded to hide under the entertainment system and continue to meow non-stop. After some coaxing, we managed to get him out from under everything (the full list includes the stairs, two different beds, and of course, the TV), we took him to the vet. I think my father still has scars from that encounter, and my mother still swears he can fly. His name was originally Ferra, Latin—and feminine—for wild, because no one could get close enough to tell he was male. When my parents took him to the vet—my brother and I were at school—they found out he was male, and changed the name. Ferris loves high places, and has found his way into the ceiling and onto the divider wall between the kitchen and the living room. He is also, as previously stated, huge. We call him the “Wild Child”, because it just fits him. Even though he’s calmed down quite a bit since we got him, he still hates to be held and is always in constant motion. He’s a huge goof ball as well. He brightens up the house just by being himself.

All of these cats have been a great impact on my family, and I can’t imagine what it would have been like without them. They are so unique and capable of so much love, so I struggle to see how people believe that they don’t count as “someone”. Just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean that they can’t express themselves. And it certainly doesn’t mean that they can’t provide companionship and love. I for one wouldn’t mind being the “person who lives alone with twenty cats”, because I know that each one would be a great blessing and companion to me. When I grow old, I will be a Catlady. And I will enjoy every second of it.

The author's comments:
This piece stems from my love of cats and was originally intended to be a My Turn essay written for my Adv. Rhetoric class. It didn't quite come out as I had intended, but I hope everyone enjoys it nonetheless. I'd love feedback.

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