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.
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.