My family always had at least one cat while I was growing up. In fact, there’s been a cat where I lived most of the places I’ve lived in my life. It’s difficult to imagine life without Petra and Loki, or without having cats around in general.
My mom had a cat, long before I was born, who was her most favorite cat evar. The cat’s name was Ulysses until it turned out to be female (got knocked up) and then the name was changed to Lissa. Lissa was, apparently, the most amazing cat ever to walk the earth – she was potty trained, even (pee, not poop) and my mom loved her so much that years later she named a daughter after the cat. My mom acquired two cats while she was with my Dad before I was born – one named Felta after the school where she worked, and one named Tanka who I barely remember. Felta and Tanka didn’t want much to do with little kids, and I think they both died when I was pretty small. Then we got Tai. Tai was a gorgeous little cat, a very dark tortoiseshell who came to us from a family friend, already pregnant (though we didn’t know it at the time). When we figured it out, I was pretty excited because I loved kittens. Tai wasn’t very old to be having babies, but she figured out what to do when my mom fixed her up a nice bed in an old cardboard diaper box to have her babies in. Being a cat, she decided to have her babies in a place that SHE determined, and one night I woke up to squirming and weird sounds, discovering that Tai had birthed her kittens on my bed on top of my feet. I was six.
Tai’s litter wasn’t very big, only three babies, but we loved them all. There was a tortie (Pansy, named after the rust-colored spot on her head) and two brownish-gray tabbies (Tiger and Violet). Not long after the kittens were weaned, Tai ate some cat food that somehow some antifreeze had dripped on, and she died. I was very sad. But we still had three kitties to manhandle and love. Tiger didn’t stick around for very long, despite being neutered; it was about then that we got a new dog and he didn’t like her. So he took off. We were down to two kitties, which was fine. They were both excellent mousers and often left us presents of mice guts on the step outside our front door.
We moved to the next town over when I was ten, and both Pansy and Violet adjusted to a diminished range in which to roam. They also cleared out my mom’s yard of lizards and probably a few songbirds. I loved Pansy more than Violet, both because of personality and because Pansy was prettier, but I loved Violet as well. One night in college, I had a dream that Pansy and Violet died, and they spoke to me in the dream to tell me they were fine and happy now. The next day, my mom called to tell me Violet had died (she was 13; it was a respectable age for a mostly outdoor cat).
Pansy lived another three years. She was a Poor Old Kitty when she died, all bones and cold all the time. I loved her a lot and cried when she died. After all, she was born on my bed.
There weren’t any kitties in the dorms when I went to college, but my sophomore year I moved into a co-op. One of the people in my house had a kitty named Mia, a big fat gray cat that was probably a Russian Blue. I didn’t really love her, but I liked her and she hung out with me sometimes. She liked living in a house with lots of people, I think. When College Boyfriend and several of our friends moved into the Big House together, they got a cat, an orange tabby named Kitty who was probably one of my most favorite kitties ever. He was very special. I helped to raise him from a very small kitten, and he turned into a giant intelligent medium-haired orange tabby who resembled a lion. I kind of hope Leah and Simon’s cat Linus turns into another Kitty. Unfortunately, despite my misgivings, the guys who lived in the house thought nothing of letting Kitty come and go from the house. One day he didn’t come back. They looked for him for days, in shelters, put up posters, to no avail – either he got hit by a car, or someone else took him in to love him. I hope that second one. He was an awesome cat.
A few years later I moved in with QIR and another friend. QIR had Tasha, dowager princess, a tiny Russian Blue with tiny feet and a weird alien head. Tasha doesn’t really like people except QIR very much, but she liked me OK and I did have a dream about her once that led to her return home when she’d been gone for a few weeks. I think I wrote about that before. And then I moved to Denver, and waited about 8 months before getting Petra. She needed a friend, so we got Loki a year later.
My mom has two cats now, another gray-brown tabby (Merlin) and a tabby-tortie type (Ginger). I like them both OK, but since I’ve never lived with them I’ve never really developed much of an attachment to them. I’m definitely attached to the kitties we have, and they’ve been very cute the last few days, snuggling together and bathing each other in a warm spot because it’s been so cold out. But someday, I want another orange one. They’re awesome.