I didn’t grow up in a supportive environment, and one of the things that I caught a lot of flak over was cats. Back then, pets were still only pets, and no one understood why I was so driven to befriend and care for cats. I’ve been called a “crazy cat lady” since childhood.
The other day, our now-three-legged cat accidentally made a mess on herself, since balancing is hard with her broken front leg (at the moment, she only has two usable limbs), so I took off her cone to let her go to work grooming while I gently dabbed at the smearing around her stitches with a warm washcloth. And, unbidden, one of those negative voices sprang into my head with, “Why would you spend that much money on a cat just to clean shit off of it?”
I’m not a “pet parent,” and this animal isn’t my “fur baby.” Heaven knows I’ve given birth to enough babies to quench any desires in that area, so that’s not my motivation at all.
Cats are my spirit animal — my familiars — and I’m bound by a geas.
It’s the sort of thing where I go outside and cats appear. My husband and I have had strange cats follow us around the neighborhood on our evening walks — alongside our own cats. They’re always nearby.
I can’t turn my back on a cat that dragged herself through all that pain to ask for our help, even when that means carefully cleaning up poop with a washcloth as she recovers. Besides, I’m not so self-absorbed that I resent every second spent caring for another creature; I quite enjoy being the nurturer.
I’m grateful to be married to someone who understands.