Childhood Pets

Katherine Longshore 6 Tuesday, July 03, 2012
I used to be a cat person.  So much of a cat person that I collected stuffed cats, cat figurines, wore t-shirts with cute kittens on them, pretended to be a cat when I curled up to sleep...

I was eight at the time.

We always had cats.  Cortez was my parent's old Siamese who moved to California from Houston, Texas in a crate that got sent (accidentally) to Arcadia instead of Arcata.  If you know the geography of California, you know there's a huge difference there.  By the time I remember him, he was old and tired.  I remember playing a game with my first grade best friend where we picked him up from where he slept in front of the heater and put him down anywhere else in our great big drafty house, just to watch him run back to the heater.  Poor, long suffering animal.

When Cortez died, we got another Siamese.  My sister named him Cotton.  He was the last male cat we  ever had because he roamed.  And we lived too close to the highway.  My mother got a phone call the day after he disappeared and walked out of the house with an empty shoebox.  She told us not to look when she came back.  But I did.  I hid in the living room and watched her trudge back up the hill from the highway, one blue-point paw hanging limply out of the box.  In GILT, my main character, Kitty, refrains from watching something horrifying from her window - I wish that I, too, hadn't looked.

Midnight was my cat.  She was (surprise!) black.  My sister got a dachsund.  Midnight a fierce hunter, the type of cat who showed her love by bringing trophies into the house and leaving them next to me on the couch.  She, too, disappeared, and despite a concerted effort on my part (though I never went down to the highway) was never found.

My last cat was another Siamese mix, who came to live with us when I was eleven.  Shasta had the crooked tail, but not the crossed eyes, and she loved to "talk".  I swore I could understand what she was saying.    I made up stories about her and regaled my friends with them.  During classtime.  Shasta was a hunter, too, but couldn't catch anything that hadn't already been run over in the driveway.  And she taught us never to leave food on the counter overnight.  The day before Thanksgiving, she ate a hole out of the center of two (yes, two) pumpkin pies.  And at Easter she ate the eyes off of the elaborate bunny-shaped cake I had made all by myself.  She lived nineteen years, and finally died in my mother's arms while I was far away in England.

I will probably never have another cat.  My husband is allergic (and is decidedly not a cat person, to boot).   But I still love them.  The studied indifference.  The ability to fall asleep in the most unlikely and uncomfortable-looking positions.  The soft fur and the purr that rumbles unbidden when they're stroked in just the right place.

But of course, I love my dog.  I can't imagine life without him, how he follows me to wherever I'm working.  How he barks me awake (at 5:30).  And he wouldn't tolerate a cat in the house anymore than my husband would.  So for now, I just enjoy other people's cats.  And I never have to empty a litterbox.


Arcata? Did you live in Humboldt County? I'm from Petrolia, a tiny town out there. Always surprised when I come across someone who even knows that there is more California above Napa. ;)

Born and raised! And I know Petrolia - Lost Coast, Gold Rush Coffee and the Mendocino Triple Junction, center of the 1992 earthquake! (my parents are both geologists, excuse me for geeking out...)

Come and enjoy my cat any time! She's desperate for attention.

Why, Beth, thank you for the invitation! I think I'll take you up on it...

Funny you write about pets today! This is one of the holidays my yellow lab dreads! He has gotten more scared of loud noises over the years and we Southerners love our fireworks (and lately thunderstorms). So we can't make plans to go anywhere on the Fourth because we're afraid he might just have a heart attack. He wanders from room to room, closet, bathroom upstairs, downstairs, bed, couch. He just can't find a place that he feels safe. We think he might have been kept outside before he came to live with us. He was three when we got him. In any case, the fireworks have started and his terror has begun.

We've always had dogs. My husband is allergic to cats as well. Or so he says. I'd have a house full of animals, but it's not exactly financially feasible. But I have always thought that saying that cats own you rather than you owning them seemed so true.

Thanks for sharing that funny picture of Todd!


I understand, Heather! Toddy has always been frantic on the 4th - but he's recently lost most of his hearing, so things are a bit better this year... Good luck surviving the noisiest holiday!

Post a Comment

Grid_spot theme adapted by Lia Keyes. Powered by Blogger.


discover what the Muses get up to when they're not Musing

an ever-growing resource for writers

Popular Musings

Your Responses

Fellow Musers