I always said I’d never marry a man who didn’t like cats, and I got very lucky in that respect after I met Chris. Not only did he like my cats, he had one of his own back in Kansas where he grew up. I’ve known people who gave up their pets when they got married, had children, or moved, but I couldn’t do that. My cats are like my children, and if someone who claimed to want to spend the rest of his life with me didn’t like them, I would have had to seriously reconsider our relationship.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to do that. Chris loves cats almost as much as I do. When we first met, I was taking care of a sick kitten named Katerina, and while we were watching a movie together, she peed on both of us. Chris didn’t yell at her or get angry, like many people would have; he simply tossed his shirt in the washing machine, and we resumed our movie with Katerina bundled in a towel.
We have four cats now, and somehow, they have been divided into “his and hers” cats. Christabelle is my Manx that I’ve had since before we met. Chris had a cat named Spike when he lived in Kansas, and after we started dating, I adopted Stryker – who is named after the vehicle Chris’ army unit drove around in Iraq. Christabelle is a social kitty, and when Katerina became too sick for me to make her better, Christabelle melted into a state of social abandonment. Stryker came along soon after. He is her adopted brother and her best friend. Since Chris came home from the army, Stryker has followed him around almost constantly; I think he’s always wanted a male role model.
After Chris and I had been married for about a year, one of his younger sisters got married. Chris was deployed at the time, so I drove to Kansas for the wedding. One of the stipulations was that if I went, I had to bring Spike home with me. She was an indoor/outdoor cat, and Chris worried about her. I’ve always jokingly accused him of considering Spike his “other woman.” He dotes on her, and she’s just the slightest bit spoiled by his affection. When it was time to come home from the wedding, however, I put Spike in the pet carrier, and she rode happily with me all the way back to Tennessee.
Being used to ruling the roost in her former home, Spike found Christabelle and Stryker to be a bit of a shock. Neither of them likes being bossed around, and Spike wasn’t used to other cats that didn’t clear the way for her. She staked out her territory under the bed for three months until she finally got settled enough to make her intentions known so the others would get out of her way when she wanted food, attention, or toys.
According to Chris, Spike had several litters of babies, all of which contained at least one annoying orange kitten. Since Stryker is orange and white and Spike still dislikes him after four and a half years, Chris attributes her animosity to Stryker’s orange fur. Unfortunately for Stryker, he never can stay out her way, and since she’s still very much Chris’ cat, she gets jealous very easily if she even thinks someone will come between her and her daddy.
Even though I was the one who adopted Stryker, and Chris didn’t meet him for over a year, we still consider him “our” cat. That all worked out fine until Stryker decided that he had missed having a male role model around all the time that Chris was away. Now, he’s a complete daddy’s boy, and he follows his daddy around everywhere. One of Stryker’s favorite things is to sit beside the sink and watch Chris shave and get ready in the morning. When Chris is done, Stryker gets in the sink with the water running and plays, almost like he wants to imitate his favorite human.
Our fourth kitty is named Snowbird, and she’s a more recent addition to the family. We didn’t exactly mean to get her. We only meant to do a favor for someone who works for a pet resuce, but that resulted in us bringing her home forever.
Snowbird once belonged to someone whose family had allergies. The story goes that she was rented out with her former family’s house, and when no one else was available to take care of her, she wound up at the vet on her way to a foster home. Even though Chris and I had three cats already, a family friend called to see if we wanted another cat. Sight unseen, we said we had our hands full with the ones we had.
The next day we got another call, just to see if we could pick her up at the vet and take her to the foster home. When we saw how pretty she was (she’s a Birman) and heard her sweet little mew, we knew she needed a forever home, so we told our friend to forget about arranging the foster home. Snowbird was coming home with us.
For the first month, she was on medicine for a skin allergy, and she hated coming near us because we had to force her medicine down her. Once her prescription ran out, she gradually started coming out from under the couch, and eventually, she decided she liked napping by the fireplace. The dry heat must have felt good on her itchy skin because she started running every time she heard the fire starting. Nowadays, she’s usually near by, just waiting for some attention – and maybe a bowl of tuna since she refuses to eat cat treats.
It’s great to have someone with whom to share my love of animals. If my husband hadn’t been an animal lover too, that most definitely would have been a deal breaker. Even though we don’t have any kids yet, our fur-babies are just as important as human kids. Just because they are furry and don’t speak your language doesn’t mean that they don’t give and receive love just as well as a person.