(yes, still need to save my storage unit. #crowdfunding)
Something I’ve noticed recently. Those of us who have pets in our homes can treat those animals very differently. Now, I’m not talking about those who abuse their pets. There’s a special level of Hell for them. I’m talking about people who love and care for them. Especially with cats.
It can depend on the personalities of the humans and the cats, but I’ve seen a range from basic affection to where I tend to be: if Portia (or Jack or JoJo while they were alive) is on me, I ain’t moving unless it’s a dire emergency. Lately, Portia has returned to what she used to do before we had to leave our apartment. Except now she does it a LOT more. If I’m in bed, she climbs up on my chest and naps there. She’s even expanded to when I’m on one side or the other… whichever side is up, she rests on that, with her head near my shoulder. I swear cats really are like putty… they can conform to whatever is needed. Not to mention the contortionist aspect of them cleaning or sleeping.
And my old chiropractor referred to ME as Gumby… I think the cats win.
I think this is why I get offended when people tell me to give up Portia because I don’t have a lot of money and no permanent home right now. She keeps me grounded. I have someone, even if “only” a cat, to live for. To try harder for. To keep pushing myself for. I can see in those people that they’re the type to abandon a pet, no matter how much they say they care for it. They don’t believe that pets are aware of loss and other emotions. But they do. They feel, sometimes even more so than us humans.
Years ago, while still living at home, we had two cats, Skunky (the B&W girl that shows up sometimes in my featured image) and Smokey (DLH brown tabby girl). These two were best of friends. They curled up frequently on the front porch (parents didn’t really want indoor pets) in almost a Yin & Yang cuddle. Virtually inseparable. One day, Smokey died. I don’t remember how. Skunky began to lose weight, was grieving the loss of her best friend. She didn’t move much, etc. We took her to the vet and made sure she was healthy (she was), but when we got home, I told my mother that we needed a new friend for her. She was grieving her best friend. My mother wasn’t too keen on my analysis, but days later, she brought home a three month old little grey DSH boy. The movie Gladiator was in theaters at the time. My brother came over that weekend, after seeing the movie, and it was decided his name would be Max, short for Maximus.
Over time, as Max grew bigger, we let him outside on supervised sessions. Skunky perked up and was eating more and gaining her weight back. By six months, he was neutered and starting to be outside more. Keep in mind that Skunky was at least 10 by this point, but she appreciated having Max around, even teaching “how to cat.”
Years later, we would again suffer another loss. This time Max. There was another cat in the “household” by the name of Coco. Losing Max was hard, but he was roughly 7 at the time, so right in the normal age range for outdoor cat life spans. Coco helped with that loss. Skunky was still going. Certainly showing her age, though. I think one of the reasons she survived so damn long was because she loved anyone and everyone who came into contact with her. And those loved her back. She was at least 18 when she died. Likely older. She and her siblings showed up and adopted us. I was in my junior or senior year of high school, I think. She passed away around 2008 or 2009, which puts her close to 20 years old. Everyone in the neighborhood LOVED her and recognized her on sight. She knew she was dying and went off alone to do just that.
For me, my pets, which I’ve only had cats since moving out of the house in 2001, are a massive part of my life. They are my companions, my friends, my “kids.” Wherever I go, they go. I know different people behave in their own ways when it comes to pets. To some it’s “just a cat/dog.” But I don’t subscribe to that view. They’re my family.
*DLH: Domestic Long Hair; DSH: Domestic Short Hair