I grew up on a ranch where we had every animal you could imagine. The cats we had were just barn cats who ate mice, and we had nothing to do with them at all. I didn’t like cats in general, and I am totally freaked out about mice — plus my mom was allergic to cats.
My first love was a tiny red dog. Megan. Her mom was a Brittany Spaniel, a world champion bird dog; her daddy was some dog that jumped the fence. The sellers just wanted to get rid of her, but to me she was beautiful, perfect, and so very sweet. She was my Valentine’s Day gift; nothing else could have been better!
You never saw me without Megan. She was my world and my life. Her date of birth was the day after mine, so I figured we were meant to be together. She was not the “family” dog — she was totally mine! My precious red girl slept between my head and the headboard when she was a baby, and as she grew, she slept alongside me.
Fast forward 13 years, and Megan was down to 18 pounds. Putting her to sleep was the hardest thing I ever had to do. She was my life, but she was suffering and so sick, and I loved her too much to let her go on like that. I stayed with her and held her paw until the very end, until her very last breath. I cried; the vet cried.
I couldn’t bear to be without Megan, so I had her cremated. She is still with me every day, 10 years later. She was my rock through the worst times in my life: my divorce, my parents’ divorce (after 25 years), and my grandparents’ deaths. I didn’t think I could — or even want to — love like that again.
However, after years went by, and after I remarried, I was missing that unconditional love from a pet. So I started out small. I got nasty, stinky fish. They were gross, but I always took care of them.
One day I went to Petco to get fish food. The line was long, and for some reason I decided to look at the adoption agency that had cats by the front door. Remember, I didn’t like cats. But when I saw an older orange-and-white fat cat named Morris, our eyes met, and that was it.
All the other cats were kittens. I was afraid that no one would want this adult kitty who just wanted to be loved, just like I did. I didn’t want anything to happen to him. I figured we were a perfect match. He needed a home, and I had a home. We were meant to be!
I checked out with my fish food, went home, and didn’t even put down my purse. I told my husband, Robert, that I had to have Morris. He said no, so like any good wife would, I went straight back to Petco to get my kitty.
In the beginning, I had no idea what to do, or what Morris needed. But over the years, he and I figured it out together. He was the love I was missing, and he has been the love of my life since I lost Megan. My husband says he doesn’t know who is more attached — me or Morris! Morris is so much like Megan. I feel like he is her way of telling me it’s OK to love again, even if it’s a cat.
After two years, Morris and I had this whole cat thing down pat. Robert was jealous of our relationship, however, and he wanted his own pet. So for his birthday we went to our local shelter and saw this beautiful orange kitty. She pawed at my nose, and that was it — I fell in love again! Plus, she matched Morris.
I didn’t know until after we adopted Maddie that she had been living on borrowed time. Robert told me she had been scheduled to be euthanized before we took her home.
I worried how Morris would react to another cat in the house. I had no idea what he had gone through in his past life, and he was such a momma’s boy with me. Unfortunately for Robert, Maddie is SO not his cat — she prefers me, too! She liked him for the first two hours or so after we brought her home, but she was still sedated from surgery. Then Morris and Maddie sniffed each other, and all was well with the world. I had worried over nothing.
A year and a half ago we went back to the shelter. Robert wanted to look at dogs. However, the cats were right by the front door. So we looked at the cats on the way in, then we looked at the dogs, and on the way out we went back to the cats. What else could I do? There was this tiny, 2.6-pound kitty! She was a total “God love it” cat. (That’s when everyone tells me she is so ugly that only God could love her. Well, God and me!)
I thought she was beautiful, and she was crying. I was sure she was crying for me, so once again I was in love. I was so worried about how Morris and Maddie would react when we brought her home. But you know what? They looked at Mae, sniffed her, and looked at me as if to say, “Stay out of that darn shelter!”
So, that’s how a one-dog person became a total cat lady.
Laura lives in Mesquite, Texas, with her husband and three cats. She has three stepchildren and two step-grandchildren.
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