I grew up with dogs. My brother's allergic to cats. But I remember the first time I saw a cat and knew that felines are much a part of me as needy, slobbering, domesticated wolves.
Some girl down the street was selling kittens, and I wailed and sobbed about why couldn't we get a kitten, who cares if my brother would have permanent allergies, it was so cute.
Yeah, that didn't sway my parents. Here are tales of cats I've loved:
Halloween night 2012. Better yet, it's snowing. As treasurer for a student-run organization that gave free rides home to college students, I was picking up the rental cars for the weekend. The salesman is walking me around the cars when I hear a squeal. Ohmigawd, I stepped on something. Ohmigawd, it's moving.
The salesman: "Oh, it's just one of the feral cats."
Apparently wild cats had colonized this rental car lot. But this wasn't a cat; it was a kitten. The coal-colored lump lay sprawled on the gravel, frosted with snow.
Me: "What are you going to do?"
The salesman shrugged. We continued the car inspections.
Once we were done, however, I went back to the kitten. I couldn't just leave it here. Where was its mom? Meanwhile, the salesman was locking up shop for the night. Okay, I was taking it with me.
As it was a wild animal, I couldn't just pick it up. What about its teeth and claws? So I dug in my car for a towel. The salesman offered me a box. And to my apartment I went with my feral kitten. When I arrived, my roommate immediately gave up putting on their Halloween makeup to come see what I brought home.
Me: "Let's give it milk, and I'll run out and buy cat food."
I picked it up to show my roommate. My roommate recoiled: "Cazey, there's something wrong with its face . . . "
Me: "What do you mean?"
"Its eye is missing."
I about dropped the kitten. Deformed things freak me out. Give me Silence of the Lambs any day over The Hills Have Eyes. Well, this hill didn't have an eye!
I did scream. And then I put it back into the box. I should have known not to bring a black cat home on Halloween.
My friend ended up taking Cyclopia for the night (I named her; I don't know why I decided it was female), and we gave her to the SPCA in the morning. We like to think her eye was treated and she found a good home.
Last year I visited my friend in Brooklyn. His roommate, who was out of town, had a cat. My friend warned me that Barcelona - which is the prettiest name ever for a cat - was like a dog, including having her belly scratched.
I spent the weekend cuddling with this cat and shooting the best selfies. She knew I loved her. She came to me every time I walked into the apartment, and she would crawl on me, and gosh, it was love. I contemplated kidnapping her, but was told her owner was in the National Guard. So maybe not.
The problem was, I arrived in NYC post-midterms aka I was sleep-deprived. And a weekend in NYC is not known for its R&R. By Sunday I had "the falls." That is what I call the sensation when you feel you're in a dropping elevator while you're awake. Basically, my sleep bank was so deprived, I was afraid of psychological harm. So the last night I went to bed early.
I had to be up at 6 AM for my bus ride home. 3 AM came. Barcelona jumped onto my bed. Go away, I think. But no, Barcelona wants to cuddle. Maybe it's because she knows I'm leaving, maybe it's because she's just an overly touchy cat, but she decides to molest my face. With her tongue. I don't know if you've ever felt a cat tongue, but it's not even like a dog tongue. It scrapes your skin. It is a barnacled tentacle.
"Get off me!"
She comes back for the kill. She puts her tongue right on my eye. I almost threw her across the room. Instead, I am too tired to shove her away. The rest of the night was me in a Promethean struggle, enduring her slimy cheese grater mouth while in a catatonic state.
Over the holidays I visited my friend, Justin, at his parents' home. They had two cats, both apparently strays that his mom tamed, but I spied Tom first. Think Garfield. Think fat cat. That is Tom. I cannot do his size justice.
My friend tells me when they found Tom, he was scrawny, but once they fixed him, he ballooned. Poor boy.
Tom, like Barcelona, was a cuddler. You could hug him, you could pick him up - he didn't squirm away!
My first night there, my friend and I came back from the bar to find Tom sleeping in my bed. The picture above is what I snapped after we woke Tom.
DON'T YOU JUST WANT TO HUG HIM?!
Of course I had to change into pajamas, brush my teeth, etc. before I could get in bed. I rushed because I wanted Tom to snuggle with me, but alas, he fled to the dark end of the house. I left my door open when I went to sleep, and the whole rest of the night I kept whispering, "Tom . . . Tom, come back. Tom, is that you?"
The second night, he got into bed with me. But then his tongue came out. Nightmarish memories reemerged. And then he slunk away, and I nodded off. He probably was looking for food.