how many cats do you have?

This question was posed to me by my neighbor a few days ago.

“Four.” I answered, already bracing myself for their reaction. Because there would be a reaction. There is always a reaction.

People don’t really know what to do with that information. I can’t imagine what it’s like for my heroes those crazy cat ladies who have 15 cats. I get disbelief and astonishment. I can only imagine they must get fainting and screaming.

Obviously I love cats, but really, I just love animals. When I was a kid we had 2 horses, 5 goats, 12+ chickens, 2 cats, 1 dog, and 2 rabbits. And I suppose I could probably count the neighbor’s huge turkey flock that occasionally lived in our yard.

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Nothing abnormal there.

I’ve been surrounded by animals my entire life. I can’t imagine living without them. In case you need even further proof, here’s a brief visual history of my love for animals in chronological order:

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Four cats doesn’t seem quite so crazy now, right?

(I see you shaking your head, Jason)

The first two cats were planned. The second two were not. And I fully admit, it’s my fault.

January 7th, 2013 my then co-worker, Heather, came into our office and stated quite casually that there was a little kitten outside.

IN JANUARY.

I immediately ran outside and there she was. A tiny little black kitten, shivering and mewing. I got down on my knees and tried to call her to me. She came about halfway, then stopped, too scared to go any further. So with a very ungraceful dive, I managed to catch her. I brought her inside and kept her wrapped in my jacket until she warmed up. And sent this picture to Aaron:

Luna

As you can see, Aaron was thrilled.

No one came forward to claim her, so she stayed with me. Her belly was bloated with worms. She was so weak that her back legs didn’t work very well. She couldn’t jump from the floor to the bed. But she laid in my lap and purred and purred.

“Don’t name her.” Aaron said, still determined to foster her.

“But she’s obviously a Luna Lovegood!” I responded, and she was.

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It didn’t take long for Luna to make herself at home. She was a troublemaker from the start. She got into everything. She scratched at furniture. She was fiesty and naughty, but it was hard to stay mad at her for long. Especially with those sad, sad eyes. She even won over Aaron.

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Stuart is Aaron’s cat. He loves Aaron the most and is not afraid to show it. I am second best. But Luna is my cat. She is my little shadow. She follows me everywhere I go, even if it means going up and down the stairs a million times. Every morning I make my coffee and she comes over and sits on my feet or begs me to pick her up. She loves watching me cook or bake, only occasionally trying to stealthily steal pieces of food from the table. She loves to snuggle, crawling under the blankets to cuddle against you. She’s a small cat, possibly due to the malnutrition she suffered as a kitten, but she is still feisty. Anything the “big” cats do, she will do too.

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Stuart and Bruce liked her well enough, but they were very rarely in the mood to play. Luna loved to run and jump and wrestle and chase. Stuart loved being stationary. Bruce loved being dignified. Then this happened:

Rey

I managed to talk Aaron into driving out to Steve’s house to retrieve the vicious stray cat.

“You have to PROMISE we will foster this one.” He said.

Upon arriving at Steve’s garage we found the tiniest, most terrified little ball of fluff. She had hidden herself in the smallest nook she could find. It took a good half hour to get her out, and when we did that adorable little fluff ball bit Aaron’s thumb so hard, she drew blood through his glove.

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She was covered in dirt and oil residue since she’d been using Steve’s oil pan as a litter box. She also had a good smear of Steve’s blood down her face and neck like the world’s tiniest and most adorable badass. She was terrified, but she didn’t make a single noise. The first night, I picked her up by the scruff, wrapped her in a blanket, and placed her on my chest over my heart. She was so still and so quiet that I had to keep checking to see if she was breathing. On the second night, she started to purr.

 

We were going to foster her. We had some friends who wanted to take her. We didn’t even name her, calling her “kitten.” But then something unexpected happened.

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Nami fell in love.

Almost as soon as she met her, Nami adopted this tiny orphan kitten as her own. She snuggled with her, cleaned her, let her play with her tail, and protected her. And the kitten bonded with our sweet little momma dog. As she began to explore the house and meet the other cats, Nami was there to jump in if anybody got too rough. If the kitten squeaked in distress, Nami would come running. Kitten slept curled up next to Nami, purring and kneading, while we melted into gooey puddles.

I mean, how, HOW, could you break that up?

The last straw was after we saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens and realized that kitten’s name needed to be Rey. And that was it.

Rey fit so perfectly in with our family. She ignored Stuart’s grumpy growls, respected Bruce’s privacy (most of the time), and best of all, played with Luna. Luna and Rey bonded quickly as playmates. They chase each other all over the house, tiny footsteps echoing with surprising volume. They wrestle and play and if anybody squeaks, Nami is there to break it up and check on both of them. IMG_7692

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So yes, we have four cats. It wasn’t planned, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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