#SATurday: The Lesson of Cats

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.

Boo Boo and I while writing this
Boo Boo and I while writing this

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.”

15 thoughts on “#SATurday: The Lesson of Cats

  1. So many people in my family have cat allergies, so my contact with them has been limited. My best friend had one though and it was the only thing that wasn’t afraid of the dog next door named Puma. (We assume the name is because massive land beast ate a puma in one bite.) One thing I never got with cats is how they pinpoint the person with the allergies or the bad mood. Do they sense ‘defective humans’ as one friend put it?

    Good luck with the interview. Will it be uploaded later for people to watch afterwards?

    1. LOL Oh, my goodness. This reminds me – one my roommate’s actually had cat allergies (hence why I got a shorthair in the first place – and with her permission), and she used to say the same thing about how cats would pinpoint the person with cat allergies.
      The interview is completely live, but I’m not sure about it being uploaded anywhere afterward. I’ll contact Jonas and see if there is a record feature. If there is, I’ll upload it to YouTube. Either way, I’ll let you know. :]

      1. I have considered that people are either dog or cat-like. Maybe the 3 species have spent too many centuries together, so we’re starting to act like each other. 🙂

  2. I was also raised with 3 dogs, and still consider myself a dog-person, though i have never held any ill will toward cats. Cat allergies are an unpredictable thing with me. While growing up in Detroit, i was exposed to all manner of cats via friends and family, with no ill effects, but once i moved to Denver, everything changed. I suddenly couldn’t even be in a room with a cat without allergies kicking in, and i carried the allergy back home to Michigan when i visited, requiring me to take anti-allergy meds when staying with my sister (who has a cat). Now, i live in Alaska, and though most people up her have more dogs than I would ever want (alot of Iditarod mushers live near me with as many as 60+ dogs on their property), there are a few cats around, but i seem to have gotten over my allergy. Like i said…weird.

    All things considered, though, if my allergies permit it, I’m open-minded about taking in a cat. Though, in all honesty, my heart of hearts belongs to the canine faction.

    1. I wasn’t openminded at all about cats until it was forced upon me. You’re better than I am! :] I do miss dogs a lot, and I hope to have a dog in my life one of these days. I grew up with huskies and malamutes, so BIG dogs are my favorite. Actually, you might get a kick out of this: Shadow (my old husky) came from a father that was in the Iditarod, but he was a runt, so to speak, so they sold him to my family as a pet. He was great! I miss him very much. So much that he appeared in Take Me Tomorrow as Argos, Sophia’s elkhound husky mix.

      1. My dad had a malamute named Tiger when he married my mom. Ive seen pictures. He was huge! When my mom got pregos with me, they had to give him away because my dad used to wrestle around with him all the time and he kept jumping up on my mom. We never got another one 😦 but Ive always loved malamutes from a distance. One of my coworkers up here has a team of malamutes that he uses to haul cabin-building supplies back into the bush. I bought my motorcycle off him and when i went to pick it up, he didn’t warn me about his dogs. Just one had to weigh around 250 or 300 lbs! They looked like wolves on steroids. I told him that if he ever had an oopsy litter, i wanted one! He told me that malamutes are the Clydesdales of the sled-dog world. I believe him.

  3. Part of me wants a cat someday, but I’m slightly allergic, so I don’t see it happening. I had two cats when I was a kid: Snow White (who I called White Kitty) and CinderFellla (who I called Cinder). We named them both before we knew their genders and Cinder ended up being a dude. Thus CinderFella

      1. Not yet. I really want to though. But I think I’m gonna wait until my concussion symptoms die down completely before I go hang out in a place with bright lights and loud sounds for very long.

  4. I read this with my kitty, Zoey, purring next to me. I can’t imagine my life without cats – they always added spunk and amusement to my home, and I always managed to find the ones who were extreme cuddlers. My other cat, Catniss, is very puppy-like in that she’s always waiting by the door to greet me and will lick my face when I pick her up. Not sure where she learned that 🙂

  5. When you tried avoiding the cat, the cat interpreted that as a friendly gesture. People who don’t like cats tend to recieve a great deal of unwanted affection as a result, and some people who like cats are avoided by the cats. The best way to get a cat to come up to you is to turn your back to them.

  6. I think all animals can recognize a friendly heart and will approach accordingly even if they are unwanted.

    Give a needy animal some love (and maybe a bit of food), and I promise it will make your day.

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