I’ve always loved this picture of Stryker. He was only a few months old and had just gotten settled into my apartment in Oxford, MS. I only had two windows in my apartment: the one he was looking out of, which was actually a French door, and my bedroom window. He liked watching birds at the door.
This picture is still posted at our local vet’s office. Our vet “Uncle” Dr. Bob found Stryker for me. He was part of an abandoned litter, and Dr. Bob knew Christabelle wanted a little brother or sister. All of her potential siblings had fallen through, except for Stryker, and to this day, they are an utterly devoted pair.
Note the green mouse. Stryker enjoyed marching his mice under the stove, and once he hopped up on his back legs and looked like he saluted them before he batted the last one under the stove. From that point onward, I called him General Mouser, and he was leading his catnip troops.
Stryker has always had a compulsive relationship with food. He tried to eat a plate of lasagna when he was a kitten. He literally launched himself across the room at my plate. He also spent a summer stealing dog food and gained almost 7 pounds.
He’s still a big boy, but he’s pretty active, and he’s back on a healthier food regime. He outgrew his kitten asthma, and he doesn’t launch himself into plates. He has a strange affection for tomato/basil Wheat Thins, but that’s his primary vice now, and fortunately, we don’t have those around too often.
Since Stryker loves food, I was worried about the pet food recalls and treats made in China, so scoured the stores until I found something that sounded safe. We’re trying Waggers My Little Lion treats. That tuna and chicken are the prime ingredients makes this kitty mom happy, and it’s made in the U.S. by a Canadian company. I chose tuna flavor because I thought Snowbird might try them, but she still refuses to touch anything except dry kibble and canned tuna.
On the other hand, Stryker loves them! Here he is smiling and licking his lips after snack time.
Disclaimer: I purchased these treats myself for my pets. I received no payment or compensation for the endorsement of this product. I merely wanted to share information about a product that makes my pets happy.
The artist asked how many pets I have, and I said five. He told me he couldn’t draw all five (because there was a short time slot for this popular activity), and I would have to pick. How do you pick your favorite furkids? I picked the two who have been with me longest and are the most well-traveled. Christabelle and Stryker approve. 🙂
I know a lot of people aren’t “pet people,” but I don’t know what I would do without “fur-kids.” When I was little, we had dogs and barn cats. Somehow, the standoffish cats at the barn appealed more to me than the excitable dogs that barked and growled at strangers.
As soon as I found out there was a new litter of kittens, I slipped under pallets, between hay bales and even under a bush hog to cuddle the newborn balls of fur. They didn’t always appreciate my dragging them out of their nest, but playing with the kittens was one of my favorite things.
One day when my grandfather and I went on a walk, two grey tabbies followed us home. We put out a bowl of food, and they stayed. The two sisters were identical except for their eyes: Mew had brown eyes, while Purr’s were green. They started out as carport cats until some feline spat drove Purr down the road to live in my grandparent’s garage. I lost track of how many litters they each produced, and later, their children produced their own kittens. I’m sure we helped populate half the county with free kittens.
When more than one mother had kittens in close proximity, I took it upon myself to try to keep the kittens divvied up between the correct mothers. Whether it was a case of curious kittens or jealous mothers, it never ceased to disturb me to return home and find the kittens with the wrong mothers. Perhaps I was a bit obsessive as a child, but I had to be sure the kittens were properly sorted before I could sleep at night.
Eventually, we got the kitten population under control through generous donations of mousers to stables, barns and anyone who wanted a kitten, and instead of spending my time dividing the kittens into their original litters, we were free from cats for awhile, except for Mew and Purr and a few of their children, who were particularly nice or pretty. We had some cuddly indoor lap dogs, but cats have always been my favorites.
When I was in college, someone I worked with found a black kitten coated in sap or tar and asked me if I wanted to take him. After getting him cleaned up, which included having his back shaved, I took the motley kitty home with me. He looked so ragged that I named him Andy, after Raggedy Ann’s brother. He nestled in my hair and slept under the covers with me, and when I had to go back to school, he listened while I talked to him on the phone. We also had an understanding that if I told him, I’d “be home Wednesday” he would start looking for me at the windows a day or two before I came home, even if I wasn’t on Wednesday.
By some genetic fluke Mew and Purr, who were both long-tailed mousers, both had Manx kittens. The Manx breed is known for cats with round heads, rabbit-like back legs, and tails that are either short and stumpy or missing altogether. Ever since meeting my first Manx kitten, I’ve had a fondness for them, and when our last Manx cat succumbed to old age, my mother found me a new Manx kitten to keep Andy company. Christabelle has been my constant companion ever since.
When my friend Laurel mentioned that no cat she has ever adopted would sleep in bed with her, it surprised me because almost all of my indoor kitties have been cuddlers – sometimes even bed hogs! When Christabelle gets cold, she sometimes will burrow under the cover with me, and if she can’t get under the cover, she curls up in a tight ball on my pillow, right above my head. Something is wrong if a cat or two doesn’t walk on me during the night or cuddle with me while I sleep.
Now that Andy is gone, Stryker is my only boy cat, and for some reason, he is the most loving when he knows that I’m upset. If I’m crying, he’ll walk across me and will lie on the bed or couch near me, purring, just to let me know that he’s there.
I’ve never understood how people can’t love an animal. Even if it’s not cats or dogs, horses, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc. can all be loving pets. When people don’t make sense, or I’ve had a bad day, my fur-kids are always there. They may demand food and plenty of attention, but they never yell, lie, complain or judge. They never get angry that you didn’t do things their way, and their only deadlines are making sure they have full bowls, clean litter boxes or a walk, and cuddle time.
Whether I’ve been gone for an hour, a day, or a whole vacation, my fur-kids are happy to see me. My favorite time of day is when Christabelle and Spike greet me at the door and Snowbird pokes her furry nose through the stair rail for me to pet her.
So what that I have cat hair on my furniture and a few claw snags on the bedspread? Those things can be vacuumed or replaced, but the unconditional love of a pet is irreplaceable. If we had room for a well-trained dog, I’m sure I’d feel the same way. I know I have the same feelings about my mom’s dogs when I “borrow” them for cuddles and puppy kisses. It may not be true for everyone, but for me, life without pets would simply be too cold.