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My Cat Loved Me—But I Didn't Know It at the Time

I always wanted a dog growing up. Instead, I was forced to have a cat throughout my childhood.

By Tas O'HurleyPublished 6 years ago 6 min read

It seems like growing up all we see in the movies are kids with their dogs. Of course, as a little girl with an older sister who just didn't want to be bothered, I wanted a best friend that I could play outside with and go on adventures with. I wanted that magical connection that the movies show.

Growing up, my family had a cat... I was convinced that this cat hated me. She tortured me EVERY night. She would only use MY shoes for her preferred location to leave hairballs. And the kicker was when she killed all hopes of me having a dog as a kid.

So how does a cat kill a child's hopes for a dog?

When I was 9 years old, my family moved from our mobile home into a house in a different school district. As is typical with most cats, she got spooked and ran off in the midst of the move. My dad and uncle searched for hours for her. Every day, my dad would go back to the old home to look for her.

After two weeks, my dad pulled me and my sister aside and told me that it looked like she was gone. Since this was the only pet we'd ever had, it made us quite upset. But then, my dad said something that gave me hope...

He said we could get a dog.

The entire reason we couldn't have a dog prior to this was the fact that the cat was too aggressive when it came to other animals in her territory. My nine year old mind seized on the idea that with the cat gone, I could finally get the dog and the happy life that the movies constantly shoved down my adolescent throat.

My dad then left to pick up the presumably empty carrier that he had been leaving on the old porch so that we could use it when we went to go pick out a puppy...

Yeah... The carrier was not empty.

Our cat had essentially decided that was the day she was going to allow herself to be brought home; thus killing my hope and joy at the prospect of getting a dog.

From that moment on, the hostilities were established.

That seemed to be the defining moment where our relationship went from coexistence to hostility. I was upset and angry that I couldn't have a dog. Looking back, I am sure she knew that I disliked her and it exacerbated the situation, but at the time, I was just convinced that my cat was a jerk and hated me.

Every night at 3 AM exactly, she would jump on the pillow next to my head. I would lock my door when I wasn't in there. I would search my room top to bottom multiple times. I would set traps to know if anyone or anything was in my room. To this day, I still have no idea how she would be in my room every night. But without fail, she would wake me up at 3 AM EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

She would also single out my shoes, my bookbag, my coat, et cetera for her favorite spots to hack up hairballs. I would have to wash my things before leaving the house constantly.

My toys would disappear and somehow end up in her litter box. My books would be shredded. She drove me insane!

But a cat won't live forever, right?

My parents had gotten this cat when they found out they were pregnant with me, so by the time I was born the cat was almost a year old. On average, indoor/outdoor cats don't live too far into their teens, or so the vet had said at that time.

When I was 14, I was still having my issues with the cat but it was becoming obvious that time was starting to get to her. My dad sat me down and told me that when she passed, I would be able to get the dog I had always wanted. I hate to admit it, but I was a petty kid and was hoping for the cat to die just so I could get a dog.

As the years passed, I ended up getting used to the lazy old cat curling up on the couch next to my head. She didn't jump on my pillow anymore, but would curl up just to sleep next to me. She still seemed to target my stuff with her hairballs, but it was less intentional and more that she was always on my stuff.

I still was secretly waiting for the day she'd pass, but it was becoming less about getting a dog and more about not wanting her to suffer.

The Day She Left This World...

It was the day I left for college. I packed up all of my things. I was finally an adult and leaving home behind. She was the same cat she had been for the last few years. She was still annoying me by not wanting to leave my stuff alone long enough for me to get it packed free of cat hair.

I had long since reconciled that I would not get a dog and that the cat would be around as long as it could spite me, so I gave her a pet and watched as she came outside to sun on the porch as we drove away.

I got to school and unpacked, generously using the lint brush to remove the cat hair that permeated everything I owned. I said goodbye to my tearful parents and went about taking care of setting up my room for my adult life.

A couple days later, I got a phone call from my parents. They informed me that the cat had never come back after we left. At nineteen years old, there was no chance that she was doing anything other than going off to die. I hung up the phone feeling anger.

I was angry at the cat. How dare she live literally to the day I moved out just to spite me? She knew! She just had to know that she was the only reason I couldn't have my puppy!

It took me a long time to realize that it was myself I was angry at. It took me a long time to realize I was sad at losing the only pet I had ever owned.

It took a long time to get over.

She passed when I was 18 years old. I never realized just how much she must have loved me to have behaved the way she did with me. The guilt of essentially hoping for the death of my cat seemed to weigh heavy on me, preventing me from getting another pet until my thirties.

That was when I finally got my puppy (Jack). That was a whole other nightmare.

And then I got another dog (Mario).

And then I finally got another cat (Inara), who is just as insane as the one I had growing up.

Mario and Inara

Knowing the love I get from my fur-babies now, I can finally understand and comprehend the love that my first cat gave me...even if she did drive me absolutely insane.


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