One doesn’t simply wake up in the morning and decide to have five cats. At least, I didn’t. It was a process that took place over five years. Let’s go back to the beginning . . .
I was raised with cats. As long as I can recall, we had a cat or two; when I was quite small, it was Tabitha and Blackie and Stranger and Schnookie (my mom named them). Later, I had a gorgeous cat named Rikki Tikki Tavi (I named him!) and then two brothers named Shamrock and Lucky.
When my husband and I got married, we lived in Hawaii, and my husband was deploying every now and again. He wanted me to have company, so he bought me a sweet kitten we named Tigger. While I loved her dearly, she was definitely more of a daddy’s girl . . . but she was our main pet until she passed away in December of 2006 at the age of almost 19.
We promised our kids that once we moved to Florida, they could each get a cat.
Our home here was larger, and we felt three cats would be okay. We found a litter of the exact number and genders we needed: two sisters and a brother (our oldest daughter said she didn’t want a cat. Remember this for later.).
So we adopted Della, Dixie and Callypso, and they were wonderful cats, sweet, loving and adorable. That was perfect . . . until our youngest daughter’s best friend’s adopted cat gave birth, and Cate decided she wanted a striped kitten. She begged. She made persuasive arguments, movies and hung signs. Finally, my husband gave in, and Chessie came to live with us.
Chessie wasn’t accepted right away by the older cats. She was a little timid, and she preferred to hang out with our one-year-old puppy (how we ended up with two dogs TOO is another story).
In 2012, about three months before we moved from Apopka to Sanford, our neighbor knocked on our door. He was holding a small gray kitten, maybe four or five months old. He told us he’d been his dog, and this kitten followed him, meowing. He knew we had cats, and he was about to go out of town, so . . .
I was adamant that we were NOT keeping this cat. We tried to persuade our now-married oldest daughter and son-in-law to take her. No. We tried to find her a home. No.
Lenni moved with us when we relocated to Sanford. By then, we’d had her spayed and vaccinated. I’d given up.
When we moved to Sanford, Chessie was traumatized. She’d lost her favorite place–our huge screened porch–and she hated being in a new place (she is an astute cat). For the first week, she hid in David’s closet. I was not happy, either, about our move, so I would go and sit with her, talking to her, petting her when she’d let me and bringing her food and water. When Chessie finally did emerge, she was well and truly my cat. She is still a mama’s girl . . . of all the cats, she’s the one who sleeps in my room each night.
So that’s how the cats came to live with us. If you think I’m nuts–well, you’re not wrong. But keep in mind that over the years, we’ve had FOUR other cats approach us, looking for a home. The first one in Sanford ended up moving in with my daughter and son-in-law–the ones who didn’t want a cat, remember? They now have two sweeties, who are my adored grandkitties. The second Sanford cat went to live with a friend of ours and is a much-beloved part of her family. The other two met us in Winter Springs, and they stayed out of doors . . . except in cases of hurricane or very cold nights, when we brought them inside. One has passed, and the other we haven’t seen in a long time. I think we’re safe.
Yes, I talk to the cats. And yes, they are spoiled. Each morning, Chessie waits for her ‘creamies’, a tiny bowl of milk she’s had since she was a wee kitten. Lenni also likes cream, but not as much as Chessie does. None of the black cats will touch milk.
My cats are not stand-offish or introverts. They are all social; they want to be with us ALL the time. They have personalities and quirks like the rest of us.
I think they make me a better author, because they’re always around for support and encouragement–including sitting on my lap so I have to crane my neck to see the computer keyboard or patting my hands as I type.
So . . . cat lady? Yep. Crazy? Well, I’m not sure I’d go that far–wait a minute. I have to go. One of the cats needs me to move. She wants my chair.
Hmmm. Maybe crazy isn’t so far-fetched, after all.