It began quite innocently. I had always loved animals, cats especially. Their delicate movements, constant purring and meowing–they warmed my heart. Growing up, we weren’t allowed to have any animals in the house due to my father’s “allergies.” We knew the real reason was because he hated animals, but arguing was futile; our house would forever be furless.
Upon obtaining my freedom with my first apartment my first purchase, even before buying furniture, was a kitten. I went into the animal shelter and fell in love with a precious orange kitten curled up in the corner of her cage. She shared the cage with three other kittens, but chose to stay secluded. She was independent, just like me.
I brought her home and took care of her, finally living out my childhood dream of being a cat owner. However, I soon realized she was not as independent as I originally thought. She was lonely and needed a feline friend to cheer her up.
Another trip to the animal shelter was in order. This time another orange kitten caught my eye. He was sitting in his cage staring at me, just waiting for me to take him home. And I did just that.
The three of us were one happy family. The kittens bonded quickly and grew up loving each other. They may have loved each other too much; before I knew it our family of three grew into a family with ten cats, with the addition of a litter of kittens. I could hear Bob Barker’s disappointed voice in my head, but it was too late now.
I thought about giving the kittens away but I knew I couldn’t bear breaking up the family. Instead, once the kittens were a bit older, I took both adult cats to the vet to have them fixed. I definitely did not want to have more kittens in the house.
After dropping off the cats for their surgeries, I was walking down the hall toward the exit when I heard a faint meow. I’m not sure what made me turn around, but something about that meow made me think it was meant for me. I looked back to see a black cat staring at me, silently begging me to get him out of there. He looked as though he had a rough life and just needed to escape. I inquired about him at the front desk and learned that he had just fathered a litter of kittens. I had no choice but to adopt the black cat, along with the newborn kittens and their mother. They could not be separated and they needed to be freed from their cages.
When my orange cats returned from the hospital, it was obvious I needed to move to a bigger place to accommodate my growing feline family. Our new home was not in a great neighborhood and the house was a fixer upper, but with my cat food and litter budget rising it was all I could afford. We settled into our new home the best we could. The neighbors were not welcoming though. The kids in the neighborhood were perturbed by the number of cats I had, now totaling 18. Furthermore, they were put off by the color of the cats. With half being black and the other half being orange, they were convinced I was obsessed with Halloween, which made me some sort of witch.
I wanted to fit in in this new place so I quickly remedied this problem with a visit down to the animal shelter. I perused the aisles of the shelter trying to find a cat that would offset the Halloween vibe I had unintentionally created. I decided on a brother and sister who were white with black paws. When I went to pay for them, I was delightfully surprised to discover that my loyal customer punch card was full which meant I got one cat for free. I went back and got a calico cat to add to the bunch.
That was my last trip to the shelter. I no longer needed to seek out cats; they found me. At all hours of the day and night, strays would show up at my door, waiting for me to let them in. After countless sleepless nights, I installed cat doors for the newbies. My cat family grew exponentially, until I couldn’t keep track of how many I had.
Looking in the mirror, I hardly recognized myself. My clothes were covered in cat hair and my eyes held a look of curiosity that wasn’t there before. I was now a cat lady.