I am undisputedly a cat person. That’s not to say I don’t love a lot of other animals. I just love my cat, and all my previous cats the most. I grew up with a dog, many cats, a rabbit, and a mouse, not all at the same time though. As an adult I adopted two cats who have sadly passed out of my life and a silly German Shepard for a few years. Now our family of 3 is matched by two guinea pigs and a cat. I would love a dog at some point when I don’t have small children, so maybe in 10 years. Cats, though, make a lot of people uncomfortable because of their superior attitude and independence. They generally don’t rush up to you at the door, follow you around or look at you with adoring eyes. They come when they want to, rip your couch up and don’t need any help attending to their bathroom needs or bath, thank you very much. In all of my years and at least 15 cats though, it has become clear how often this is a misconception. Yes, there are definitely cats who are stereotypical and I respect them for that in fact I love a cat’s sense of independence. But the majority of my cats have been goofy, affectionate, and quite loud at times.
The cat that now shares our living space is interestingly loveable. We adopted her from the local shelter about 2 years ago as a kitten. She’s a half Maine Coon, which is a large breed, sometimes reaching into the 20 plus pound size. She is positively diminutive at 13 pounds. I would have to say I have never had such a happy cat. She purrs constantly, only while she purrs she likes to bite and play, very roughly. She sleeps on my bed at night, and while not a lap cat, loves to be brushed and petted, until she starts acting like my hand is a rabbit. She loves playing hide and seek and tag as well. With two young children, she might be considered a risky pet to have, but she is incredibly patient with my little one,who has gone from being able to scoop up the tiny kitten that she first was to barely being able to stagger down the hall with poor Oreo the cat. Needless to say my fears were unfounded . Oreo seems to know who to be gentle with and generally submits to adorations that would infuriate the mildest or personalities. Cats always do seem to have a special sense for sickness as well. I know that my daughters would be thrilled to have more cats, and so would I, if space were not at a premium. Mostly I think our cat would not allow another one in the house. I know we will have many more feline companions pass through our lives, but I hope to be a one cat family for a while. No more guinea pigs either…..
A few weeks ago there was a fire in the house next door to ours. A fire is always scary. It’s unexpected and the damage can be devastating. Our house is a townhouse, so there are 6 houses in a row all attached. I have known people who have had house fires before, but had never been on the scene when the fire trucks and police were in action. Because the fire happened on a friday evening at dinner time, and in such a neighborhood, there were a large number of kids in the crowd, including mine, and the kids who lived in the house on fire. Kids always have their own way of dealing with situations so it is interesting to see the differences between them and the adults. The fire started in the attic of the attached house. We didn’t notice anything at first, except that when I stepped outside to check on my youngest who was playing with her friend, the air seemed smoky, but it wasn’t from grilling. I came back into the house, telling my oldest, who was helping with dinner that we should see what was going on, because there was a lot of smoke around. I knew what a house fire smelled like but thought that it was in another neighborhood. My first instinct was to get my other daughter while we figured out what was going on. We went outside and I saw a few other neighbors. My youngest came running up followed by her friends. After a few minutes my next door neighbor came out and said there was a fire in the house. They have a few children of various ages. After a few minutes everyone was shepherded outside, and I think the fire company must have received about twenty calls simultaneously. Luckily we live right down the street from the fire chief who was on his way home anyway, so he was the first on the scene. After what seemed like a long time but was in reality about 10 minutes a policeman showed up, instructing me to get all of my animals out, and then the fire trucks right behind him. As the sirens sounded, the crowd outside our block of houses grew larger, and most of the people there were unfamiliar to me. We watched the fire men pulling hoses and ladders down, trying to calm the kids who lived in that house. One little neighbor decided her job would be to try to calm my cat, who clutched my neck throughout the entire hour and a half in a panic. Some of the other kids were more interested in my daughter’s guinea pigs than in the fire. Both of my daughters alternately cried or tried to comfort their friends. We adults all stood around watching with concern, glad that the family was safe, but worried that the fire might spread. We chatted uneasily and I got to know a few more neighbors. I could sense the tension filling the adults on our side of the street. After about an hour and a half of standing around with the growing crowd, the firefighters packed it up. After advising me of the smoke smell in my own house and the necessity of having to knock out the roof vent, we were cleared for re-entry. The kids had all calmed down by this time. My youngest took it upon herself, after the firemen started to pack up, to grab half a case of water bottles from our garage and give them out to any one who was thirsty. She is pretty smart for a five-year old. My older daughter was busy trying to find clothes for the teenager whose room had been burned in the fire, deaf to my advice to wait until the family was settled. Finally I was able to persuade them that we could pick up some happy meals for the younger neighbors and put a hold on searching for old clothes for a girl who was at least twice as tall as my daughter. The days that followed were slightly smoky and filled with strange sounds emanating from trucks and inspectors trooping around next door. Since both my girls were very concerned, I suggested they ask our church to collect some clothes suitable for a teenager, with the result of a very cute and mostly audible speech by my 5-year-old to the entire congregation. A few days after the fire, save for the absence of our neighbors, the whole incident had been forgotten by the kids. They have not been scarred in any way or had any nightmares about fires, which is good since I did. The whole unexpected episode on that friday evening reinforced my belief that children really are far more practical creatures than adults. While we worry about the future, they are busy dealing with the present.