The Lesson of Cats
I didn’t always like cats. In fact, I think it’s fair to confess how much I hated them. (A lot). I was raised with big dogs in the house – 3 to be exact – and my only experience with a cat resulted in a large and deep scratch slicing across my face, including one of my eyes. I was seven, but it left an impression.
Over a decade had to pass before I experienced cats again. It was my sophomore year in college and the first year living in a house with roommates. One of my roommate’s friends needed us to watch her cat for a little while, and sure enough, we had an extra (and very fuzzy) roommate move in.
My original goal was to avoid Lucifer (yes, his name was Lucifer) at all costs. But he attached himself to my bedroom and the nearby bathroom. We later found out that the previous tenant who lived in my room also owned cats, so I’m assuming that had something to do with Lucifer’s mysterious affection. Nevertheless, avoidance was no longer an option.
The first time I realized he was growing on my dog-filled heart was on an ordinary morning, right before my Thursday Chaucer course. I needed to use the sink, and Lucifer was using it as a bed. I tried to coax him out. It didn’t work. And I tried to pull him out. Also didn’t work. Eventually, one of my roommates came in, and we attempted to get him out by turning on the sink to a dripping level. He simply locked eyes with us (yes, both of us) and stayed right where he wanted to stay. But I had never seen such puppy-dog-like eyes on a cat before. The determined and begging expression he held as droplets of leaking water sprinkled down his face was, perhaps, the funniest (and most sincere) expression he had held since moving in. It was practically impossible not to fall in love.
I didn’t know it yet, but my heart was morphing into a cat lady heart (mixed with a dog lady heart), and I figured that out when Lucifer left. I missed him – a lot – and after weeks of serious contemplation, I began stockpiling cat supplies. That very Christmas, I met my own little fuzz ball, and he was named Bogart, after my favorite actor Humphrey Bogart. If you’ve made a donation, you definitely know Bogart – you have your own customized photo of the guy – but he comes around here often.
I’ve learned a lot because of Lucifer and Bogart. I learned how much love can appear from an unexpected place (if you allow it to), and I’ve learned how destructive it is to allow one bad experience to define all future experiences. If I had hated all cats because of the one cat who hurt me, I would’ve never found Bogart, and I wouldn’t have my best friend.
Since Bogart, I have befriends two more cats – Boo Boo and Kiki – and now, I have three cats where I used to have three dogs in my life. I miss Max, Milo, and Shadow – my dogs – a lot, and I’m sure I will write about their stories one day, but for now, I am quite content writing what I have learned from cats as I sit outside on an usually beautiful March day – with one of my cat companions listening to every word as I contemplate the final product.
So far, I think Boo Boo approves.
P.S. I have a LIVE interview on March 28 at 11 a.m. (CDT) via Google Hangouts! You can even ask me questions (and see me). Author of A Time to Reap, Jonas Lee, is hosting the interview right here: “A sit down with seasoned author, Shannon A. Thompson. There will be questions. There will be answers. There will be coffee…maybe a cat, no guarantees.”