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