Someone recently asked me why I don't like cats. I do like cats. I would have a cat now, even with my dogs, if Rob wasn't extremely allergic to them. He just has to walk into a room where a cat has been and he starts sneezing. I would have an orange Tabby or a Siamese.
My very earliest memories involve cats. My first memory is being in a crib and a cat was in the crib, too. I wasn't mobile enough to grab it. My second memory is also of a cat, probably the same cat. I was crawling around in the living room and the cat was sleeping in the corner. I was heading toward it and within grabbing distance when someone picked me up. My early life was full of frustration. I don't know the name of that cat, but somewhere around here is a picture of me sitting on a blanket in the yard. In the picture I was about six months old and on the blanket with me are a cat and a couple of adult chickens. I guess I had some interesting playmates.
One weekend when I was about four years old, my Grandfather was building something in the garage and I was helping, as usual. He told me it was a rabbit hutch. We didn't have a rabbit. On Friday evening a week later he told me we were going to visit a friend that he worked with who raised rabbits as a hobby. He said I could pick out a rabbit. To say I was excited was an enormous understatement.
The man had dozens of rabbits in his barn. I don't know what he did with all those rabbits, but I try not to think too much about it. He took us into a room where he had baby bunnies and said I could pick any one I wanted. I chose a white bunny with pink eyes. It looked like this. I called it Snowball.
Then I saw a black and white spotted baby bunny. Suddenly I couldn't decide which one I wanted. My Grandfather asked the man something about them being the same and the man said they were. At the time I didn't know what they were talking about, but now I know my Grandfather didn't want me going into the rabbit business at age four. My Grandfather said it was OK to get both bunnies so that Snowball wouldn't get lonely. Great !! I called the second bunny Spot. Remember, I was only four. Spot looked a lot like this.
We almost made it to the door when I spotted a tiny gray bunny. Again, I was unsure which ones I wanted. You guessed it, we took all three bunnies home. This one was called Dusty. My Grandmother was waiting for us, expecting one bunny and in I walked with Snowball, Dusty and Spot. She again asked if they were all the same. When she was reassured that they were, we settled them in their new hutch. These were my very first pets that were all mine. Dusty looked like this.
When I was six we moved to the city. My cousins moved into the farmhouse where we had lived and they took care of Snowball, Dusty and Spot for me. I saw them on weekends and during the summer. We lived in a second floor flat in the city. I asked for a dog constantly and finally we got Boots.
One weekend my Mom and I went to a wedding. A friend that she worked with was getting married. The reception was at her parents' house and her mother's cat had kittens. I went home from the wedding with two kittens, one gray and one white. I called them Salt and Pepper. This was too much for my Grandmother and the two kittens went to live with my cousins, too.
One day,during the summer my Grandmother needed some time for herself, so she sent my Uncle and me to the zoo. My Uncle was young and didn't have a car, so we took the bus. We had a nice day at the zoo and we stopped at the petting zoo before coming home. We were looking at the rabbits when the Keeper walked over to us and asked us if we liked rabbits. I told him about mine and he said the zoo had too many rabbits and we could have one. We picked out a white one with pink eyes, just like Snowball. The Keeper put her in a box and we went home on the bus with our rabbit. I called her Zoozie.
My Grandmother was not happy about the rabbit. We made a special trip to the country that night to take Zoozie to live with Snowball, Dusty and Spot. Zoozie was not a friendly rabbit like my other ones. She liked to bite, but she got along well with the other bunnies.
Around the same time my dog Zelda was born, my best friend's cat had kittens. I took one and named him Burton. He and Zelda grew up together and thought they were siblings. Burton was actually much tougher than the dog. Zelda never barked, but Burton, who was a very large cat would chase other animals away, including some pretty big dogs. He was also quite a hunter and was always bringing his kill home and trying to sneak it into the house. He never bothered with birds, but brought squirrels and rabbits home. If he caught mice he would hide them in shoes. He taught us all to put our shoes away. You only have to stick your foot into a shoe containing a dead mouse once and the lesson is learned.
There are no pictures of Burton, but he looked a lot like this cat.
When I got my first apartment the landlord wouldn't let me have a dog, but he did allow a cat. I found a cute fluffy black kitten and called her Natasha. She was a terror. Each day when I came home from work I found destruction. She would get on my desk and sweep everything onto the floor, phone, books, papers, everything. She would get on the counters and do the same.
There was a large enclosed porch that had high shelves. Tash would crouch on the shelf and jump onto my guests as they walked by. If I kept her off the porch, she would hide under the sofa and reach out one paw to snag legs as anyone walked by. Needless to say, she was not very popular with my friends and especially with dates.
About the time I was wondering what to do with her, a shopkeeper in my hometown told me how much he liked her and offered to take her. I accepted and the last time I saw Tash, she was stretched out along the counter in the store, inspecting the customers. She was sleek and happy and had a good life. I'm sure she was happier there than cooped up in my apartment.
There are no pictures of Natasha, but she looked a lot like this cat.
I guess I'm more of a dog person than a cat person because I like the way my dogs respond to me. I like doing things with them that cats just don't want to do. Still if someone comes up with a great cure for cat allergy, I'll be out there looking for a cat. Until then I just have to enjoy my friend's cats and kittens.