Day 3165: Cats

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved cats.

My mother, who was very neat, did not want pets in the house, so she resisted my requests for a cat. Also, because she had a dog growing up, she couldn’t understand why I wanted a cat rather than a dog.

I couldn’t explain it to her. I just felt a connection when I looked into the eyes of a cat. I was fascinated by them, and encountering a cat anywhere always made me happy.

One day, when I was about seven years old, my father brought home a stray cat, a small tiger kitty, who had wandered into his store. I was beyond thrilled. My mother didn’t want the cat in the house so my new kitty was relegated to the garage. I remember spending hours watching that cat eat and play in the garage, so happy to finally have one.

Soon though, the cat escaped from the garage. I remember searching desperately through the neighborhood, crying as I called out for my lost kitty. When I got home, I found that my parents were frantic about my being gone so long.

My parents were particularly worried about me because I was born with a heart condition. My heart condition really needed a pacemaker, but pacemakers hadn’t been invented when I was born in 1953.

Soon after the cat in the garage ran away, I had to go into the hospital more and more as my condition got worse. The doctors tried different treatments, including yucky medication I had to take under my tongue, which speeded up my heart but made me feel really sick.

Then, when I was in the hospital for observation at age 10, I had a heart stoppage. The doctors decided to implant a pacemaker, which they had been avoiding because pacemakers were so new and really too big for a small kid like me.

When I woke up from the heart surgery that was required to implant pacemakers back then, I said to my mother, “What have I got to look forward to if I don’t have a cat?” Tears streaming down her face, she promised me a cat.

After I had recovered enough from my surgery (which by the way, was on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was killed), my dad took me to the local vet, who had several cats there for adoption. I chose the shyest one, who was a calico kitty I named Tuffy.

Tuffy was definitely my “personal medicine,” helping me heal and be tough enough to endure the many surgeries I needed to undergo as my pacemakers broke in every conceivable way.

Since then, I often choose shy cats who remind me of Tuffy. Our cat Harley is one of those cats. Harley, even though I feed him every morning, much prefers my husband Michael. Harley avoids me when he can, although he sometimes affords me the privilege of patting him for two seconds. Mostly, he run away from me, like I’m the enemy.

Our new cat, Joan, is not shy. I chose her because she gets along with cats, humans, AND dogs. My husband Michael loves dogs so I’m thinking there MIGHT be a dog in our future. And because Joan is not an alpha cat, she and Harley get along surprisingly well.

Joan is very rambunctious and always wants to play. Harley tolerates that, keeping her away with a hiss when he wants more personal space.

Last weekend, Joan invaded my personal space, clawing my nose when she wanted to wake me at 2 AM. Because I take anticoagulant medication (required because of the mechanical heart valve I got in 2016), Joan gave me a nose bleed that just wouldn’t quit.

So here I am, in the second week of my long-awaited vacation from work, stuck at home with a painful balloon up my nose and two cats.

And you know what? I still love cats and always will.

Do you see any cats in my images for today?

I was kind of hoping that today would be National Cat Day, but to us cat lovers, EVERY day is cat day.

I wonder if I’ll find anything on YouTube if I search for “cats”?

Thanks to all the cool cats who have helped me get through the tough days, including YOU.

Categories: cats, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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20 thoughts on “Day 3165: Cats

  1. Hi Ann, it warms my heart to see a kitty in the kitty tunnel! A patient of mine was 4 years old, and she didn’t speak at all. Her grandmother brought home a puppy for her and she started to talk to the puppy. She is now speaking clearly. But we had a fraught time when the manager of the apartments where they lived said they had to get rid of the dog. I wrote several letters to the manager imploring him to let my patient keep her puppy. She still has the puppy and she speaks normally. The power of a pet’s love!!

  2. Thank you for this beautifully-written, reflective post, Ann. I loved reading it and then looking over the photos. I didn’t see a cat in the Daily B*tch but I think I saw a cat in all of the others. Your parents must have worried about you so very much but they were also very lucky to have you as their daughter.

    I am a cat person, too, but I think that a dog would be very lucky to live with you, because you and Michael take many walks.

  3. puella33

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ann. I hope you feel better soon.

  4. I hope Joan gains independence and you keep a safe distance until you heal. I had a cat which lived for 25 years. It was my first pet, after him I also had a small dog which I still have now. They both scratched and bit me hard. You need to be careful.

    I’ve learned an animal’s soul is wild, no matter how much of a pet companion he/she may be. It’s this wild side that humans cannot penetrate. We wish we could, but it’s not how it works. Hope you feel better soon.

    • Thank you, Maria.

      • I thought about my reply. What I meant by saying that humans ‘cannot penetrate’ the wild side of animals, I meant that I feel it takes a very detached and objective view of what animal companions truly are. One of my favorite films is ‘The Horse Whisperer”, from English author Nicholas Evans. It demonstrates how a human (Redford) is able to at least partially penetrate this ‘wild’ side.

        I also love Jack London. A favorite quote is:

        “He was a killer, a thing that preyed, living on the things that lived, unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength and prowess, surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment where only the strong survive.”
        ― Jack London, The Call of the Wild

  5. The Egyptians revered cats and cats are credited with keeping outbreaks of plague from happening by keeping rat populations down. And many great authors I can think of, from Mark Twain to Jack Kerouac, loved cats.
    I think Tuffy should be added to the cats who inspired great writing.

  6. I love cats too, and I am so thankful you shared your story with us, Ann.

  7. I knew you wouldn’t hold this against Joan, Ann.

  8. I have always had cats in my menagerie, too, except for the last few years. We had several Manx cats, with no tails, and they were always a source of fun. The only cat that really gave us “trouble,” and she kind of was a force, was a Siamese. She really was so temperamental we had a hard time enjoying her company. I love your story about telling your parents post-surgery that without a cat you didn’t have a reason to go on. Very dramatic, but you made your point. 🙂 And I do hope Joan Clawford feels sorry for her impulsive actions. I think she may have a little drama in her, too, but then, you guys are the ones who named her. LOL!

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