I Was Scared of Cats; Now I Can't Do Without Them
I spent the majority of my life terrified of felines. My very first cat memory involves me standing on the deck of my grandmother’s cottage while the neighbors’ cats weaved around my legs. Being a clumsy five-year-old, I accidently stepped on a tail; my leg got clawed, and a feline fear was born.
Nobody in my family had cats and none of my friend’s families had cats, so my only experience with them was my scratched-up leg. Several more incidents in my life only furthered my fear. Like the time a cat was stalking me while I was babysitting. Everywhere I went, this cat followed, staring, ready to pounce. He knew. I spent an entire evening moving from spot to spot, room to room, to avoid this cat, to no avail -- he always found me.
The time I reluctantly agreed to cat-sit for a friend’s family. All was going well until, out of nowhere, the cat ran out from under the couch, bit me on the ankle, and then stood staring at me. Petrified of this tiny creature, I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the house without it “attacking” me again. I paced the hallways, but the cat kept blocking my way. It could not be deterred from terrifying me. Finally, I dumped a pile of treats on the floor and escaped by sprinting out of the house. Complete overreaction? In hindsight, yes. At the time, with teeth marks in my ankle and blood running down my foot, I thought the cat was going in for the kill, and I wasn’t sticking around to see if we could eventually be friends. I became convinced cats everywhere sensed my terror, and then mercilessly taunted me for it.
I had been volunteering at the local animal shelter with the dogs when one of my friends from the shelter and I traveled down to Utah to volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society. Our orientation tour included a trip to Cat World, which meant entering one of many rooms full of dozens of cats. Once there, I took a deep breath and stepped into the room, gingerly putting my foot down to avoid tails and feet. I avoided direct eye contact. Being in a room with so many cats was unnerving. But nothing happened. All the cats were happy, chilling out, and couldn’t have cared less about me. Nary a stare was cast in my direction.
Upon returning home from this trip, I applied for a job at a pet store (that only had rescued animals, just to be clear). When I went to drop off my résumé, the owner asked, “Want to meet Eclipse?” and before I knew it, the tiniest black kitten I had ever seen was in my arms. “How are you around cats?” said the owner. “We always have adoptable cats running around here and you’ll need to help take care of them.” I looked at the tiny furball in my arms, paused, shrugged, and said, “No problem. I ... love cats.”
The first couple of weeks were a little rough. Cats have a way of jumping out of places, climbing up your legs, and staring directly at you for no apparent reason; I had to adjust to that. But the longer I spent around them, the more I liked them. I spend hours cuddling, photographing, feeding, playing with, and promoting my newfound feline friends, and none of them attacked me (though I was always getting scratched by little kitten nails). None of the cats seemed to resent me, and some of them even seemed to like me. The feeling was mutual.
Rescue group volunteers were always in and out of the store, and I became friends with one of them. One day this friend mentioned that she was always looking for foster homes. “I’ll foster!” I said. Fast-forward five days, and she arrived at my house with three 10-week-old, runny-eyed little kittens and their meds.
One of them, the little girl, got adopted quickly. I had the two boys a little longer, as various health issues kept popping up. The longer I had them, the more I knew we were meant to meet each other. When I picked them up after an unsuccessful adoptathon, I sighed with tremendous relief. I couldn’t understand why nobody wanted to adopt those little loves, but at the same time, I didn’t want anybody else to have them. They were mine. That was two years ago. Here they are, Evan and Murphy:
How could anyone be scared of those faces? I laugh at myself all the time because I never would have predicted this. For a long time, I really believed that cats were scary; that they scratch and bite for no reason (clearly there was always a reason, I just didn’t understand the behavior). Yet I went from being terrified of felines to being a little crazy about them. I love my boys way more than is probably healthy (thoughts that run through my head about 50 times a day: I wonder what the cats are doing now? I miss the cats!). I pretty much love all cats. I sit on the board of a cat rescue and spend an inordinate amount of time taking photos of rescue kitties, and planning adoption events and fundraisers. I have more photos of cats than humans. The other day, my friend was talking about how much he spends on dog food, and I divulged how much I spend on the high-quality cat food my boys inhale. “But they’re cats!” he said, flabbergasted.
“Yup,” I answered, smiling. “And I sure do love them.”
About the author: Megan is a writer living in Ontario, Canada. She is a bit obsessed with books, movies and travelling. She also really loves photography, interior design, hiking, and any and all animals, but especially her cats, Evan and Murphy.
Got a Cathouse Confessional to share?