A Winter Kitten
I’ve always thought there were two kinds of people when it came to the pet world.
There were cat people, like my sister, Liz, whom I kind-of-affectionately call “the crazy cat lady.” She actually owns a purse with cats flying through outer space.
I wish I were kidding.
Then there were the more reasonable dog people… like me, who appreciate everything about our furry canines – from their floppy ears, clueless but loving eyes, wagging tails and drooling lips.
I didn’t think you could be both, that is until Tina – or Veronica – depending on which of my kids you are talking to (they haven’t settled on a name yet and we are still not certain on gender).
She arrived two days before Christmas, but I’ll get back to her/him in a minute.
I have avoided cats for most of my life, a dislike that may have bordered a bit on the side of a phobia. If I walked by one on the street, I’d actually move to the other side of the road… just to be safe. I was afraid that any time I got near one, I was going to be bit or scratched – or both.
And to me, felines were far too unpredictable, arrogantly aloof, and seemed to withhold their affection and emotions too much for my taste. Not to mention, they completely lacked personality.
Meanwhile, I admired canines for their total openness to life, endearing dispositions and willingness to wear their emotions on their sleeves no matter what. I had always had a dog, from the time I was little, and I preferred to stick to the species when it came to my pet choices.
Then I met Tina/Veronica, who came into our lives a little more than a week ago when a fellow writer had mentioned that she found a kitten, only a few weeks old, on the doorstep of her oceanfront rental during a December cold snap.
Apparently, out of all the empty cottages along the beach road, this little kitten chose to climb the many steps up to her home to find a warm place to stay. And now she needed a permanent home.
For some reason, I heard myself saying yes. I’m not sure why (It possibly could have been the video of this kitten playfully and adorably batting at colorful fish on her computer). Regardless, I found myself agreeing to give it a try as long as my 12-year-old dog, Echo, approved. The dog, I stressed to my thrilled kids when I told them, was priority. If he didn’t adjust, the cat would have to go back.
Now, just over a week later, Tina/Veronica has taught me a few things about cats – or at least about her/him, and myself.
One is that she/he loves to be held and cuddled. This came as a surprise to me on that first day when the tiny fur ball found my lap, curled up, and fell asleep. When I gently placed her on the couch next to me, she woke up and promptly jumped right back up on my lap.
I was baffled. My 100-pound dog is convinced he’s a lap dog when he wants to cuddle…but a cat? I thought all they did was hide, and then come out hissing and attacking with their sharp, little claws.
The second is that it turns out that cats really are affectionate. Tina/Veronica attached herself to my family pretty quickly – including the dog, who she has slowly gained trust in after realizing he truly is a harmless, big, goofy thing that she can follow around the house and play with.
And as far as personality…this little kitten is bursting with it.
As for the dog/cat relationship, I always assumed the two species had an ongoing rivalry, an agreed upon disdain for one another. Maybe I was tainted at an early age from watching too many Tom and Jerry episodes where Spike and Jerry were always going after each other.
But to watch Echo and Tina/Veronica get to know and accept each other, and I dare say become friends, has been fun. I’ve even noticed dear old Echo has a new spring in his step these days since the kitten’s arrival.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that I don’t have to be a dog person, or a cat person. I can be both. After all, life isn’t that black and white.
And as for Tina/Veronica, this kitten is here to stay. And so is the name, regardless of whether she turns out to be a boy.♦
Michelle Wagner is the editor at Three Dog Ink and has been living and writing on the Outer Banks for more than 15 years. Contact Michelle