When you earn the love of a cat

I have always loved animals and small children, and I often have the ability to attract and charm them.

Most people I know are “dog people,” and if my life worked out differently I’m sure I would be too. And if I had a larger yard and a future that involved working from home or short enough hours, I would get a dog. I haven’t had a dog in almost 30 years.

I tend to have a good rapport with cats. We are both moody, aloof creatures, quick to bare our claws but dedicated and affectionate when you win our trust.

And my life recently has been full of cats.

I guess part of me is looking for that companionship I had with Zoot, the kitten I rescued from my brother’s household after Christmas, two months after I got married. 1999.

She was a character from the get-go. She protected me with fierce devotion, and even extended her guardianship to my daughter. She hated to see the now-teenager cry.

She knew when I needed her. She licked my tears and sat by my side. And she purred with such enthusiasm. A sound I loved to hear.

I taught her to sit, give her paw, lick my cheek and jump onto her stool. And, as a consequence, whenever she wanted what you had, she would walk up to you, sit down, and hand you a paw.

In that way, she trained me. I taught her the trick. She performed it to demonstrate her desire.

That is so “cat.”

A dog loves you because it trusts you, it needs a leader, and it wants a pack.

A cat loves you if you earn it.

And when a cat choses you as its person, especially when it has a choice of people, it feels like an honor.

Of our 9-ish month-old teen cats, Misty and Fog, Fog prefers me to my teen daughter. His brother, Misty, is my daughter’s baby. Both are the offspring of a feral in the neighborhood— Misty was the runt, and Fog was the smartest who lasted the longest on his own.

Since I got home from the hospital, Fog has spent as much time as he can by my side.

And it warms my heart.

And perhaps this bond— this return on investment— is what endears me to cats.

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