Looking for Love: Romancing the Cats
As a writer of romance, I spend a lot of time thinking about the dynamics of relationships, what makes some work and what causes the disintegration of others. Most of the time my focus is on humans, but lately I’ve been considering the relationships we enjoy with our pet companions. It strikes me as interesting that in many ways the foundations of these relationships are the same. There must be mutual respect. There must be trust. The love follows.
We share our home with two dogs and three cats, but today I want to focus on only the felines. A lot of people don’t have a fondness for cats, and if you’re one of those, maybe my three will help you change your mind. Two of our cats are old ladies at 16-years-old, and one is 3-years-old. Tabby is one of our old girls. She is queen of all she surveys. The dogs and other two cats defer to Tabby in all things, and she rules through cattitude alone—it would never occur to her that she isn’t the boss, so it never occurs to the other animals either. Throughout her 16 years, Tabby has been affectionate and loving toward her humans. She likes to be held and stroked, enjoys napping on laps and likes to snuggle under the covers at night. Tabby has always trusted us. Maybe because she was a shelter kitty and we took her away from a gruesome fate. It may sound crazy, but I think she knows.
Bailey was also a rescue, but not from the pound. We adopted her from our veterinarian. Bailey started out as a very affectionate cat, but over the years became more independent and less inclined to interact on any terms but her own. She wasn’t unfriendly, she just preferred her own company. Over the last couple of years that has changed and she has reverted to the affectionate nature of her kitten-hood. She no longer enjoys being alone but seeks human companionship. It is as though she knows that at 16 her days may be limited and she doesn’t want to waste a moment away from her humans. She has taken to climbing on my husband’s shoulders when he’s working in his office. She’ll settle in and snooze for up to an hour at a time.
Luna, like the other two cats, is a rescue, found at 6-weeks-old shivering in a storm drain. Luna is a “people cat,” likes to be wherever her humans are, and at the ripe old age of 3 is growing up enough to enjoy napping on laps. In one early blog post I referred to her as a domestic terrorist. She is still that, but these days she takes longer to nap in between acts of anarchy. She is my daughter’s cat (Luna responds to Christina the way dogs respond to their owners) but loves us all. She follows me around from room to room on the weekends when I’m housecleaning and raises a ruckus to keep me company in the mornings when I’m showering and getting ready for work—she’ll pick at the carpet with her teeth until I open the bathroom door and then smother me with affection. With Christina in college and rarely home, Luna has become my writing buddy, warming my lap while I tap at the keys.
You’re probably thinking, so what? What’s the big deal? Simply this: The relationship we share with our cats did not occur overnight. As with human relationships, these took time to develop, to grow beyond “let’s be friends” to “I love you.” They had to be earned.
There is a difference with animal/human relationships, of course. Our pet companions overlook our foibles and don’t hold grudges; they don’t care what we look like and won’t make judgments about the extra weight we carry or if we slack off work to watch a DVR’d episode of The Voice; they accept us as we are, for better or worse, rich or poor, in sickness and in health. Once they love us, they love us forever.
Wouldn’t it be grand if all humans loved like that?
Please tell me about the great pet companions of your life, how the relationships grew, or if it was “love at first sight.” Do you have a new pet pal and a budding relationship that is still in its infancy? Do you agree with me that human relationships and human/pet relationships share parallel cornerstones or am I just a silly romance writer looking for love in all the wrong places?
See y’all next Wednesday for more of the naked truth! Enjoy your week.