Not quite a cat lady

My boyfriend loves cats. And when I say “love,” I mean giant swirly-pink-glitter-confetti-type love. If I’m not Spencer’s soul mate (and I certainly hope I am), I’d believe an adorable British shorthair is.

I’m coming to terms with this.

For as much as he likes kittens, I’m afraid of them. I’ve never been a cat person. My family has a big ball o’ fun golden retriever, Rudy, and we fall decidedly on the pup side of the eternal Cat vs. Dog debate. I’ve always had a big dog running around, desperately hoping you’ll “drop” something from the dinner table. In the homes of our family and friends, dogs are a given.

Cats? They’re an entirely different animal — um, pun intended. Until I met Spencer, my experience with felines was limited to cat-sitting our neighbor’s black-and-white angry puss, Stripe, and his successor. If those guys weren’t kicking up kitty litter, hissing or passively-aggressively refusing to eat, they were blocking the door so I couldn’t flee without losing a chunk of my ankle.

They scared me.

It’s the stealthy nature of cats that really freaks me out. When my 80-lb. dog is hurtling down the hallway, I have time to make decisions. I can evade his bulk by side-stepping all that slobber or find a treat to tame him. Rudy is not quiet. He couldn’t sneak up on someone if he put all his goldie-brain-power behind the goal. He’s a big, lovable doof. Who gets mad when you wake him up with a camera.


Rudy is not amused.


Cats are quiet. They hop onto the tops of cabinets and nestle into couch cushions. You might not hear or see them until they dart out from behind a door, scaring the ever-livin’ tar out of you, and the idea of having a cat around demonstrates how unbelievably skittish I am.

On our trip to New York last weekend, Spencer and I spent time with his parents’ cats. The first time I came up to meet his family found me cowering in a corner as Zoe, probably the calmest cat around, innocently tip-toed up to this stranger in her house. I freaked out so bad that Spencer ran in, surprised at desperate way I was calling for him, and I had to explain that yes, I was completely panicking over a little cat walking up to me.

Not my finest moment.

This vacation was my third or fourth time around Zoe and Max, a brother-and-sister pair adopted years before. While Max darted from the room as soon as Spencer and I entered, Zoe didn’t seem bothered by our presence. She hung out with us pretty regularly. Toward the end of our long weekend, she was even cuddling up in my lap and allowing me to pet her. She never took a swipe at me, bared her teeth or tried to sever my limbs. She was just . . . a cute cat. Calm and sweet.

Totally un-Stripe-like.

Knowing Spencer wants to get a cat of his own soon, I’m trying to wrap my mind around cats. As a concept. Having one around, feeding one, cleaning up after one . . . it’s all very mind-blowing. I’m used to the rough-and-tumble nature of a big dog, and the dainty sneak-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night idea of cats causes a bubble of panic to rise in my throat.

Can cats smell fear?

Each feline is different, I tell myself. Not all cats are mean. And not all cats are nice. I have to learn the ins and outs of each — their quirks, personalities. If I’m around Spencer and said cat enough, hopefully the cat will like me. And we will be . . . a little family.

I’ll keep some catnip on me just in case.


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24 thoughts on “Not quite a cat lady

  1. I love cats and dogs but I only have two cats right now. They’re really sweet and cuddly.

    I definitely think cats are very perceptive about if people are scared of them or don’t like them. Inevitably when we have people over, my cats will seek out whoever is either allergic to them or doesn’t like cats. It’s almost like they want to say, “hey, we’re okay! Just love us!”

  2. Like you, I always thought I was a dog person. When our cat started to hang around our house as a kitten, we started to take care of him because he had no food and it was cold out, and then we started to let him come into the house. We ended up falling in love with him and now our 60-pound Vizsla and the 12-pound cat snuggle together on a regular basis. Ah, I wouldn’t know what to do without our fur-kids. You’ll end up falling madly in love with your cat when you get one because he will be yours. 🙂

  3. As the owner of two obnoxious (but ridiculously loveable) feline hairballs, I can definitely agree that cats are very perceptive. But they act on that in different ways. My Chaucer cat will immediately gravitate to whichever human doesn’t want him (usually my mom, since she’s allergic) and proceed to ingratiate himself by purring and rubbing up on the person while Dante is content to sit about three feet away and hiss, just so that person doesn’t forget he’s there (his bark is much worse than his bite).

    If you get a kitten or a young cat, chances are you’ll be able to influence their behavior and you’ll be used to how they react to thngs. Start slowly – let them sniff you, scratch their ears, and a treat or two never hurts (mine are suckers for treats – that’s how I voice trained them, which works about 80% of the time). I’m sure Spencer will make sure you guys get a cat that works for both of you 🙂

  4. I’m sorry, this made me howl — I don’t mean to crack up at your fear, but your articulation of it here was hilarious — thanks for brightening my Friday. Otherwise, I have nothing helpful to contribute — if I had my druthers, I’d be a crazy cat lady — but my wife is limiting us to one cat : one person ratio. I love their sneaky insidiousness. My cats are ill behaved beasts, too, so I can’t even offer good handling advice. :/ I hope it improves — nothing worse than living with something you dislike!

  5. Our house has a cat (mine) and a dog (my fiance’s). He is not a cat person, but tolerates my fatcat because I told him we were a team. It’s definitely an adjustment process. I second getting a cat from a kitten. I’ve seen it from both sides of the spectrum…my parents got their cat when he was 8 weeks old (he’s almost 12 now) and he’s pretty well behaved and well adjusted. I adopted my cat when he was almost 2, and I have yet to break him of some bad habits and behaviors.

    Ultimately, you have to do what you’re comfortable with. Good luck!

  6. Come on down to Chez Nawrot and we will give you the full immersion experience. We have six cats (five are indoor/outdoor) and one from the neighbor who prefers it over here. Plus my daughter and I go to the animal shelter every week to socialize the adoptable cats. We’d get you up to speed! Haha! Your best bet is to go with Spencer when he decides to adopt one and make sure you are comfortable with it and it likes you. And get a kitten. There should be no issues then. They are wonderful little things.

  7. Ha! I’m a cat person mostly because my dad taught us when we were little that dogs were scary (bad experience with a German Shepard that still makes him squirm when we mention the name Sheba). We have a lab–who isn’t quite as big as Rudy looks to be–and while I love her I don’t LOVE her like I did my cat (who we had to put down about two years ago). Cats cuddle and comfort. I try to cuddle with Lexi (ha!) but she just doesn’t get it.

    But, cats also come with some not so great. Like peeing in your dining room. And pouncing on you in the middle of the night (when Scott and I got married there was a “no cats in bed” rule). And cat hair everywhere.

    But they can be loveable!! Hopefully Spence finds you one who is. 😉

  8. I love all animals but adore my diva princess Tonkinese indoor cat…keep the kitten inside…manage your fear…and you will fall in love…think of how much less drool you will have to put up with !

  9. I was absolutely terrified of cats until I found myself a foster mother to a little Tabby cat last year. I really thought my heart only had enough room for dogs, but after about a week with the tabby, things changed. I fell in LOVE with her. Even though I only had her for 9 months, I have become a complete cat AND dog lady. lol I even volunteer at a kitty shelter. Cats are very different from dogs, but it’s not always a negative difference. Also think when it’s YOUR cat, you’ll warm up to it easier.
    🙂 thanks for your funny post ❤
    xoxo Lynn

  10. I think I’m in the same boat as you, almost… my fiance has a cat and loves this cat more than me (I make jokes about it to hide my insecurity). The problem is, beside the love discrepancy, I’m allergic to cats. I have to say, it has improved now we live together – I can breathe, which is a relief.
    Just a tip – cats can smell fear, but as long as you feed them (and keep them dosed up with catnip) they’ll love you in their own aloof way

  11. I cannot even deal with cats. Mainly because I’m allergic. Aside from that, they’re creepy little critters. They’re smart, and slick, and they cannot be trusted.

    🙂

  12. Spencer must be so extremely thankful that you’re trying to step out of your box when it comes to cats!

    Cats do have a very different energy than dogs; I love dogs, and I do wish to have one someday, but right now our cat is plenty enough. He’s quite scared of other humans and I’ll tell you this : when we have visitors, he always goes towards the one who doesn’t want to pet it. It’s a bit ironic to say the least, but I do believe he smells fear/disinterest and feels safer around those people.

  13. I love cats! But I’m allergic and unless I’m around the cat all the time, it really bothers me. That being said, I think you just have to raise a kitten from birth. Then it will become your cat and it will be better than ALL the cats. I am really neither a “dog person” or a “cat person.” I just like cute animals. I miss having a pet, something to snuggle with. I think Michael and I will get a dog soon, but it might take a little bit more convincing to get a cat.

  14. I’ve always owned dogs but my husband is a huge cat lover. We had our dog for years, and then decided to get a cat and now we have two. I’m still a huge dog lover but I really enjoy my cats.

  15. I feel your pain! I was always a dog person and when I met my fiance he owned a cat. I didn’t know what to do. Every cat I had ever been around was a bit psycho. However, this cat was the type who would force you to love her. She would follow you around until you would pet her and would just assume you were her best friend. It worked and now I get along with her just fine. But believe me, it won’t happen over night! But it will happen.

  16. I think both your animals are beautiful! Your tabby reminds me of mine, but yours looks much more intelligent than my girl 😛

  17. I am most definitely a cat person. I grew up with both dogs & cats as pets and the last dog we had was a big lovable teddybear. But still, generally? The in-your-face, rough-and-tumble (as you called it) nature of dogs freaks me out. I’m much more comfortable with the quiet, aloof nature of cats.

    Spencer is very lucky that you’re willing to push past your cat anxieties for him. My husband is not a pet person and it’s going to take many many years to convince him that getting a cat is not a terrible, horrible idea.

  18. My family and I are total cat people- we have had cats for years now. I understand how people can find cats creepy- they do have a tendency to appear, unannounced at places you least expect them too. I’d sometimes wake up to see my cat’s face an inch away from mine, like she was watching me sleep. But cats, once they build a relationship with you (gosh that sounded like digital marketing jargon!) can be quite dog-like- they look forward to your coming home, and will cozy up etc. Hope you and Spencer find the perfect feline!

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