In America, many things can use a serious rebranding. A few notables: marriage, step parents, and my favorite, cat ladies!
Exhibit one: Beth Stern.
Exhibit two: Taylor Swift.
Exhibit three: More hot famous ladies with their felines.
I only fell in love with cats two years ago, which means I missed out for 39 years. Two years ago, my two kids and I decided we wanted a pet. Maybe a puppy? I asked my husband.
“No way! Not in an apartment and I don’t want anything to do with that. Do you want another thing to take care of?”
“But you’ll love a puppy,” I pleaded. It dawned on me, if we got a dog, it would certainly become HIS dog. Not only does a dog usually chose the alpha male in the house, but what dog wouldn’t pick a professional clown over a brooding writer?
“Perhaps you’d consider a cat?” My husband was sure of the answer he’d get back. I didn’t like cats. I didn’t care what kind of passive aggressive signs the earth may imply, I was not a cat person – not even if I acted just like a quintessential LEO, who also happened to be born in the year of the TIGER. I’m cross-horoscoping, but don’t we all look to the stars when we’re confused and want mystical reinforcement?
Whenever I encountered cats at a friend’s house, they would hover over head or hide under beds. They seemed creepy, mysterious, plotting against me. Always staring, these creatures earn the award for “best eye contact”. Cats were what I called “shtick pet,” like half a pet. It didn’t play fetch or didn’t greet me at the door. I heard stories of how they want to smother newborns in their sleep and how they’re hunters who secretly want to slice your throat open with their razor sharp claws while you sleep.
“No thanks to the cat,” I said. “A dog would be good for exercise and better yet, great for my anxiety and panic attacks.”
“No dog,” he said and I realized I didn’t even know if I wanted to walk a dog. We live on the windiest corner in New Jersey; I even wear a jacket in the summer.
Two years ago was the first time I Googled cats; talk about a late bloomer to an awesome club! Kitty porn on the internet. (Not literally). I researched cats and anxiety and was surprised to learn about so many health benefits of a cat.
But my son was allergic. What would we do? Dr. Google and my sister both reassured me he’d get over it in three weeks. There were hypoallergenic cats, which weren’t technically hypoallergenic, but less likely to kill you if you had a cat allergy. Turns out you’re not allergic to the hair, but to their saliva, which they put all over their hair. Cats spend half of their waking hours cleaning themselves. (Real statistic, not one I exaggerated.)
I donned my ‘Go-to-Google-Gal’ cape and clicked my way through some “find the perfect cat for you” sites, clicking off hypoallergenic, smart, good with kids … and it ran its magic search engine to reveal my winner: the Russian Blue. THIS WAS A SIGN! I’m both Russian and blue (sometimes)! Within 3 days, I had an 8-week old gray kitten, who my husband named Stella Blue.
It was love and lust at first site. If you’ve never held a 2-month-kitten, you cannot understand the magic you witness happen to your body as your entire being wants to squeeze the living shit out of this tiny creature. They are like newborn babies BUT SO MUCH BETTER. It was nothing I ever knew I could feel – and it grew every day. Kittens are like crack; this is not sarcastic. I’m convinced there is scientific hormonal evidence to explain this kitty-crack phenomenon. Seriously, I’ve had two kids, but I’m not sure I would have if I had this cat first. She was gorgeous, with captivating green eyes and she was better than all those other cats. My cat did hilarious things like carry paper balls in her mouth and play fetch like a dog. Her fur was a mink; I’m not sure why they don’t make coats out of cats. I’m not suggesting it; just surprised some sicko didn’t already capitalize on it.
Two years into cat ownership, I was a six-year-old girl again, looking into carriages, asking my mom for a baby sister. Stella turned into a loner cat who ran away whenever anyone visited. She became the half cat I avoided. My solution was a companion kitty! But I was afraid if I got one kitten, and if Stella didn’t like it, I would have two loner cats. I realized the best option was two kittens so at least they’d have each other.
But unlike with Stella, it wasn’t instantaneous Google to cat in three days. We spent months talking about it, fearful of turning into a multiple cat household. What about all the litter dust? One evening I was scrolling through kitten pictures on Petfinder.com and a set of light green eyes on an 8-week-old kitten stopped me. He looked back at me and I knew he was mine. Breed unknown and I didn’t care. He was part of a litter of 6 brothers found outside a barber shop in Brooklyn.
“I found them,” I told my husband on a Sunday night.
“Them?” We still hadn’t decided if we could get two more.
“Look at them!” I commanded. “Look at those eyes. He’s looking right at me.”
The next day we went to meet them. We picked out two boys and named them Rigby and Romeo.
It’s been four months as a three-cat household. The joy we’ve amassed is unpredicted. I knew they were cute, but had no idea with multiple cats you get the bonus of witnessing the behavior between sibling cats in a fireworks explosion of elation. It is like watching your kids get along, only cats do it more often. They snuggle together, play together, and entertain one another better than most kids – and rarely get bored of each other.
Now that I’m a member of the cat club, I tell strangers, “You just MUST get a cat; in fact, you HAVE to get two. It’s the only way.“ But seriously folks, get two cats. They clean up after themselves, no need for fancy grooming (make sure to get the short-haired type), and they never get too big to pick up.
Now that I’m a cat lady, there are more pictures of my cats than my children on Instagram. Now that I’m a cat lady, I say things like, “I’m an equal opportunity cat rapist,” right before obsessively kissing up my kittens. Now that I’m a cat lady, I say things like “it feels like my heart will explode from my chest” because that’s EXACTLY the precise description of what love from a cat can do.