It is 5:00 in the morning on a cold winter's Sunday, and I am snuggled deep down under the warm, cozy covers. Suddenly, I sense a "presence" at the foot of my bed. I snuggle down deeper, trying to put it out of my mind, fully aware of the horror that is coming. Alas, my strategy does not work, for suddenly I hear the sound I have been dreading, the sound that is warning me to throw off my comfy covers, the sound that is demanding me to jump to attention that very moment! The sound I hear is a very loud, bone chilling......"Meow!".
Barely conscious, I attempt to bring the numbers on the clock into focus. There is still a full hour to go before my famished feline is scheduled for his morning feast. At this point, I know I have two options:
1. Ignore him, which will result in more meowing, jumping on the bed, scratching on the door, running, licking, knocking things over, etc.
2. Feed him.
Lisa - 0 Cat - 1
Surprisingly, before I met my husband Bob, I never imagined I'd become a cat owner. My first foray into the world of feline fanaticism came at the age of 16, when, during a sleep over at a friend's house, her kitty decided to pounce on my private parts in the middle of the night, permanently putting a dent on any future plans to join a feline fan club. Or so I thought.
Fast forward 10 years.
During my courtship with Bob, he unwittingly became a pet owner, thanks to the stealth actions of my then 16-year old, soon to be inherited daughter Jessica. While Bob busied himself on his computer in the spare bedroom, Jessica lugged a box of litter up the stairs and into her bedroom. "Oh nothing," came her innocent reply to his probing, "What are you doing?" questions.
Then she quietly brought up the litter box, food, toys, and finally, a tiny black and white, six week old ball of fur, cradled in her arms. Thanks to his coloring, she dubbed him "Yin Yang" after the symbol of the same name.
The first time I saw the little fella I was smitten, and even Bob had to agree that, even though Jessica had snuck him into the house right under his nose, our new pet could stay. And stay he did, for 13 years.
Yin Yang, or Yinny as we lovingly called him, became my best bud when Jessica went away to college. With his favorite human gone, he needed a new neck to snuggle under throughout the night, and he decided to choose mine. During this time I also discovered a severe allergic reaction to cats. No matter, over-the-counter meds would take care of that....my new kitty wasn't going anywhere.
Thanks to Yin Yang, I had become a member of the unofficial cat lovers fan club, made up of my girlfriends. Newly married and as yet, childless, we spent hours describing the most recent antics of our loveable kitty cats. "Guess what Yo Yo did?" "Guess what Milkshake did?" "Guess what Stinky did?" "Guess what Simon did?"
When Bob's new job forced me to leave those friends and the familiarity of our home in the suburbs of Philadelphia to a strange new world in Queens, New York, Yin Yang stayed right by my side. Bob's hours kept him at work until 11 pm most nights, leaving me alone and desperately missing my friends and family. Yin Yang burrowed into my neck during those lonely nights, keeping me grounded and helping me adjust.
After 18 months, we moved to a beautiful suburb in central New Jersey. Yinny soon found a sunny window ledge in his new home and settled right in. That is....until "she" came along.
By "she", I am referring to my now 14-year old daughter Melissa.
My mother worried the cat would climb into the crib and smother the baby, but I instinctively knew my loyal pet would recognize Melissa as friend, not foe. In reality, he barely paid her any mind, but he demonstrated his anger towards me in the form of jealousy. No longer could I allow my kitty to cuddle with me all night when an infant demanded my attention every two hours. Yinny responded by becoming more aggressive, following me all over, chasing me, and biting.
What's more, as children entered the lives of my friends, talk of cat accomplishments now gave way to babies' milestones. Our cats still mattered, but they admittedly, now took a back seat.
Eventually, Yin Yang mellowed and became used to no longer sleeping in my bed, while I witnessed a marked improvement in my allergies! As Melissa grew, the cat became a part of her life, a permanent fixture in her environment. When Jessica considered bringing Yinny with her to her new apartment in New York City (he was, after all, her cat) Melissa responded by emphatically stating, in no uncertain terms, "Yin Yang is my cat!"
So that settled that! Yinny stayed with us!
A few years later, we moved yet again so I could be closer to a new job. We happily settled into a New Jersey suburb just outside of Philadelphia, but this time, Yinny, now a senior kitty, had trouble adjusting. We noticed, much to Bob's chagrin, that the poor thing often could not make it to his litter box, and began marking his territory all over the house. Within a year's time, he had lost half his body weight, and I had spent far too many hours scrubbing the carpet in the spots where he couldn't keep food down.
Diagnosed with failing kidneys, we knew the best thing to do for our beloved cat would be to sadly say goodbye. To ease the pain for all of us, we immediately drove to the nearest animal shelter where we soon found ourselves surrounded by felines of every age, shape, size and color.
Melissa spotted a mommy cat lying comfortably in the cage next to seven of her precious babies, who were piled on top of one another. One of the little guys, buried under his brothers and sisters, had markings that were eerily similar to our Yinny. Melissa hold been holding a grey kitten when I handed the little black and white fellow to her. The shelter had dubbed him "Aden", and the name stuck, although he also answers to "Fuzzy Wuzzy", or the simpler version of the nick name, "Fuzz".
Melissa is Aden's favorite human, and he shows his love by licking her face, following her all over the house, and curling up with her at night. As for me, I have become nothing but a source of food for the little guy. Even if Bob and Melissa are home, he waits until I walk in the door to beg for dinner.
This month, we celebrated the 6th anniversary of Aden's arrival in our home, although it certainly feels like he has been a part of the family forever. A bit calmer than his predecessor, and much more timid, Aden has wormed his way into our hearts.
Today, my friends have also moved onto their second, and in some cases, third cats. While our kids still take center stage, they are now teenagers who are more likely to die of embarrassment than snuggle with their mothers. So we revert back to our faithful felines who are more than happy to lie in our laps, purring happily while we chat on the phone.
"Hey, guess what Aden did?"
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