How to tell if you've become a crazy cat lady
It's 10am on a Saturday morning and I'm in the kitchen stood beside the door to the living room, which is ajar. On the other side of the wall that separates the two rooms is a couch, the nearest arm of which is right by the door. On the far arm sits a small black cat. She is waiting for me to poke my head out. The anticipation is palpable.
I thrust my head out, angled at about 45 degrees or so. She looks right at me, ears back and eyes wide. With a single bound she jumps the length of the couch, rears up and begins scratching at the door frame.
That's when I make my move, I jump through the doorway, landing with feet wide and hands jazzy. The black cat turns and leaps the length of the couch again, drops down behind the arm and disappears in behind it. I chase but I'm far too slow to catch her.
By the time I've reached the end of the couch she has run its length, appeared out the other end and made a dart for the bedroom. I follow.
When I get there she's sat up on the bed. As I creep towards her she slumps over on to her side and lets out a short meow. The one that says "We're done here."
It's now 10:05 on that same Saturday morning and I have just finished running around my house hiding from and playing chasing with my cat Mona.
On a Winter's Night
It's 3am and I'm stumbling towards the toilet. One eye is open and feeling the sting of the harsh bathroom light, the other closed in an effort to hold on to my night vision.
After I'm done I decide to check on Mona. I had recently installed a cat flap in the back door so she could come and go as she pleases and I hadn't seen her since around 6pm that evening, which was unusual. Generally she'd be home and sleeping or seeking attention by 8pm before heading out again later in the night.
I stepped into the kitchen, hit the light switch, and groaned as the bulb did exactly what I had asked it to. Mona has two seats in the kitchen. I went for her favorite first. There was no sign of her. A quick glance at her food bowl told me that she hadn't been home.
"Where the fuck are you Mona," I thought to myself.
I was worried. Worried enough that sleep did not come quickly when I made it back to my bed.
She had been in a couple of fights recently, I had to take her to the vet after one of them. Then there's that nearby road that you hear cars speeding up and down throughout the night.
"I hope she's OK," was the thought that powered my restlessness that night.
A Field of Poppies
It's Saturday afternoon and I'm laying in bed. A particularly intense few days of work had left me exhausted so I decided to go for a nap.
I've never been into taking naps. In fact at 33 years old I think this might be the first nap I'd ever taken.
As I lay there trying to get some sleep I hear the pitter patter of tiny feet on the laminate wooden floor.
I'm on my side facing away from the edge of the bed. She jumps up on top of me and settles down into little spoon position. Within a minute she has gotten herself comfortable and started to purr.
This purring sound she makes has the same effect as the poppy field in The Wizard of Oz. It doesn't matter how awake you thought you were, drowsiness is coming.
I drifted off and slept for two hours with Mona there beside me, feeling more relaxed than I had for a long time.
I do have a reason for telling these stories.
If you were to travel back in time, about two years, and read these short tales to me I'd probably tell you that the guy who wrote them is weird and a bit sad. A lot sad.
I was 32 when my girlfriend and I adopted Mona. It would be the first time in my life that I'd share my house with a pet. I’d had goldfish and a hamster before, but nothing that required emotional attention as well as food and water.
Furthermore, I've never felt particularly comfortable around animals. Dogs have always made me nervous. I wouldn't say it was an all out phobia, but if I had the choice between there being a dog in the same room as me or not, I'd choose the latter. Same goes for cats.
Adopting a cat was a compromise between me and my girlfriend. She wanted one, I didn't. So we got one.
We adopted her from the DSPCA* and named her Mona, after Mona the Vampire, a kids cartoon about a young vampire girl. When she was a kitten her tiny little head looked like that of a vampire bat.
That was over a year ago, and things have changed. A lot.
I got to know this kitten that we had taken responsibility for. She has her own little personality, which is something I would have never thought I'd pick up on. She even managed to turn me, a 33 year old man, into a crazy cat lady.
She is ridiculously sweet and gentle, terrified of men and children and a proficient killer (well into double digits on the number of dead mice brought home, and two birds so far). She loves being showered with attention and loves to play chasing.
Often when I get home from work she will be standing there waiting as I enter the house. When my girlfriend gets home, however, she stands in front of the cupboard that holds the cat treats, and waits patiently.
There are a couple interesting points that this whole experience has brought to light for me.
First is that you definitely get something out of looking after an animal. There is a personal satisfaction there. A comfort that it brings. In many ways the relationship is not reciprocal. We care for, feed and provide shelter. She provides dead mice. Not exactly a one for one trade, materialistically speaking.
But there is an emotional bond there. And that is the point. Petty financial concerns are disregarded. We will get her whatever she needs and expect nothing in return, nothing physical anyway. We rarely maintain relationships like this with human peers.
Second was the reinforcement of beliefs I already held about animals and animal cruelty. Sure, I wasn't comfortable around animals, but I've always abhorred the poor treatment of animals. Having spent a year living with one I've come to see first hand the emotion behind an animals eyes.
I can tell when she is scared or excited, blood thirsty or tired, unwell or content. Most animals posses the very same emotions that we experience. The feelings that we think make us human. But it's not just us, and spending time with animals is a great way to understand that. It’s also perhaps the best way to cultivate a healthy caring attitude towards nature.
The final lesson I can take away from my time with Mona is something that can be applied to anything you care for, and it is this:
I'd be devastated if something happened to her, but it's worth it to have her there.
*Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - https://www.dspca.ie/
They do great work and if you're in Dublin I encourage you to donate to this amazing organization. If not then please help an animal and adopt, rather than going for a designer 'pure bred' animal and supporting a system that results in puppy farms and other cruel practices.