The older I get, the more often I appreciate just how mistaken I can be about myself, the single subject on which I can claim expertise. The journey to self-acceptance following such epiphanic episodes can be tough, but I’ve grown so much in the process of coming to terms with my true nature. I embrace myself for who I am. I affirm my value as a human being. I will not love myself any less for being… a cat person.
In hindsight, I can’t believe how long I managed to delude myself into thinking otherwise. I used to believe I preferred dogs, or at least liked both equally. In elementary school, I had my mom buy from the Scholastic Book Fair a pocket catalog of dog breeds, which I extensively annotated with sticky notes and carried around to pester her for the next decade.
Me: Can we get a dog?
Me: I like Yorkies.
Mom: Long hair sheds everywhere.
Me: What about Daschunds, like Benjamin’s?
Mom: Their legs are too short.
Me: *flips to bookmarked page in catalog* Beagles have shorter hair and normal legs.
Mom: Huh. They’re cute.
Me: So can we get a beagle?
I eventually took the hint and stopped asking. But I must’ve gotten to her after all, because the fall of my junior year, she asked me how I felt about adopting her friend’s cat, and a week later, I came home from school to find a beautiful long-haired white cat curling itself around the leg of our dining room table. I named her Cat and the rest, as they say, is history.
The thing is, I never realized how much of a cat person I was until I owned one. Now it’s basically my defining characteristic. Someone once told me that she thought it was obvious I liked cats better because I basically am a cat, which, now that I think of it, was probably her roundabout way of calling me an asshole.
You can tell a lot more about a person when she outs herself as a cat person versus a dog person, because, at least where I come from, liking dogs is usually a given. I mean, I really like dogs, too—it’s hard not to—I just like cats better. As I see it, it’s a lot more telling when you essentially state your preference of being constantly shunned, disobeyed, and unappreciated over experiencing acceptance, unconditional love, and friendliness.
Questions People Have Upon Hearing I’m a Cat Person
- Who hurt you?
It’s hard to explain. Cat, like me, is low maintenance, a quiet presence. Hopefully unlike me, she’s incredibly needy—she follows Mom and me everywhere so that she’s never alone in a room. She recoils from physical contact she doesn’t initiate. She prowls with elegance. She flat out refuses to do what she doesn’t want to do. Her fur is so, so soft. She’s unquestionably prettier than I am. She’s also cleaner than I am, but I’m pretty sure that’s because she licks everything, including her own asshole, and I don’t think I’m quite there yet.
Most of our interactions consist of me yelling at her to get off the countertop and then watching her stare back at me, consider her options, and pointedly ignore me until I unceremoniously yank her off. She’s high up on my list of most important people, and she isn’t even a person. On the other hand, if she had a list, I’d probably rank #5 and she only knows two people total.
But I missed her all the same. Upon my return for spring break, she greeted me at the door like she always does (like a dog, you see, but with less slobber). I was just happy to be acknowledged because one time I came back from three days of summer camp to a week of the cold shoulder. She leaped onto my lap at the kitchen table, and I ran my fingers through her fur as she nuzzled into the crook of my elbow.
Within the hour I was trying to stop her from drinking from a tub of shoe water sitting on the bathroom floor.
Me: Why do you do this? No!
Cat: *turns head toward me*
Cat: *continues to lick water*
Me: *screams* I CAN’T HELP YOU UNLESS YOU HELP ME HELP YOU
I immediately scooped her up and dumped her into the hallway. Twenty minutes later, I found myself kneeling on the bathroom floor cleaning up what I assume to be her retaliation puke because, to quote Mom, “you won’t be able to clean this up when you’re away at college.”
Honestly, it’s like I never left.
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