“Animals know. They know how a soul is stitched together. They know what it’s made of before anyone else gets a clue.”
― Alex A. King
Today I gave my class a list of possible “firsts” that I could write about and asked them to help me pick. Their choice was “My First Pet.” (I think I got them with the muttering under my breath of, “…and all the terrible things I did to that poor creature.”)
I received my first pet when I was five years old. One day a lady came to our door… a few minutes later I am cuddling the most adorable calico kitten you’ve ever seen. As a kindergartner of vast vocabulary I decided to name her (the highly original) Whiskers.
I loved Whiskers. My love was a pure love. Despite this, I fear that from an outsiders perspective it resembled Lenny from Of Mice and Men. If you don’t know that reference perhaps something more people know… this guy below. Remember him?
Yeah…that was five year old me and Whiskers on a daily basis. Poor Whiskers.
To be fair, I really thought all of the things I did were loving acts. So, what did I do?
- I once noticed that her hair was uneven and trimmed it for her. (How was I supposed to know whiskers were not the same thing as fur and she needed them for her balance!)
- Her fur was getting rough and scratchy, from all the playing around outside, so I dipped into my mothers beauty products to help her out. (How was I supposed to know that Sink-So-Soft wasn’t meant for Cats!)
- As a great observer I noticed she always crawled in and cuddled the warm clothes in the dryer when my mom would open it to start folding the laundry. (How was I supposed to know that “Tumble Dry” meant the inside spun; I just wanted to make it warmer for her!)
Despite the mine-field of a life poor Whiskers endured she was a survivor! We made three major moves with Whiskers (Columbia to Houston, Houston to St. Louis, St.Louis to Pacific). She took it like a champ every time. Whiskers lived for 20 years! She passed away when I was 25. (I’m sure you did the math on that better than I did.)
Our family had multiple pets over the years and every time one passed away it was hard. Whiskers was probably both the easiest and toughest, she had been mine for the longest but had lived a long full life.
I often tell people I’m not really a cat person. This isn’t really true. Really, I’m an animal lover in general. (Okay, maybe not birds. I’ve had some near death experiences with those things. I love them from afar in their natural habitat.) I think I just say this because she was the only cat that was ever mine. I never got another cat of my own. (I now house an absurdly adorable polydactyl kitty named Elle but she’s not mine.)
In spite of my misguided attempts to care for Whiskers, she always cared for me. When I was sick she never left the bed. When I offered her a string she always played. When it was time to sleep she shared my pillow.
Whiskers was it for me.