They say opposites attract. When Brett and I got married we were the perfect couple when it came to this idea of opposites. I’m the serious one, he’s always joking. I love romantic comedies, and he loves the stupid ones (especially if the movie has Jim Carey in it). I love cats, and he loves dogs.
It’s our opposite opinion on the subject of pets that has really saved our bacon, our furniture, and our pocketbook for several years. We’ve only had one pet during the course of our marriage, and that was only because my sisters thought they’d be funny and buy my new-born son a goldfish. The fish only lived for three days. Maybe it was because we named him Hitler, thanks to the black mark above his lip, or maybe it was because I’m just not good at keeping living things that aren’t humans alive. Just ask my kids every time they brought a plant home from school. There’s a cucumber plant on my counter which is on its last legs now.
I clearly don’t have a green thumb, or even a black thumb. It’s more like no thumb when it comes to living creatures. The fact that my children are still alive and breathing I attribute to a whole team of guardian angels.
After Hitler’s untimely demise, Brett and I agreed we wouldn’t get a pet. I knew I didn’t want the job of cleaning up after said pet, especially after we adopted our 3 boys, bringing us up to four kids. I certainly didn’t want another “kid” in the house to clean up after.
With our plan in place, we figured we could make it through our kids’ entire growing up years pet free. If Brett hated cats and I hated dogs we convinced the kids there was no way we could agree on a pet, therefore, no pet. Yes, the boys tried to get us to default to other living creatures like a hamster, a lizard, a snake. But we came up with other excuses.
Seventeen years we maintained our plan. A full seventeen years! I truly believed we were going to make it. I mean, we only had six more to go. Easy peasy. As long as neither of us caved it was going to be a cinch.
Enter pathetic, mangy, starving cat—stage left.
I was a goner from the moment I saw the cat. What color was this guy? Grey on grey, or grey on white? We couldn't tell for all the dirt. I fed this guy tuna right away. He was so mangy I wasn’t even going to touch him, but clearly he was hungry and needed something to eat. (I later found out he'd been hit by a car, which explained his face.) My kids couldn’t believe what I was doing.
“He’s mean, Mom. And he’s the neighbor’s cat.”
“No way is this guy the neighbor’s cat,” I said. “No cat owner is going to let their cat look like this. He has to be a stray.”
But they were convinced he was the neighbor’s cat. They explained that the cat had been living in the neighborhood for a couple of years. One of my boys even showed me a picture he’d taken of the cat two years prior on his iPod. I couldn’t believe it. How had this guy been surviving for so long? He didn’t look like he was going to last much longer.
We were leaving that morning for Lake Powell, but I vowed I was going to do something about the cat when I got back if I saw him again. I figured that “something” would be to call Animal Control to have the cat picked up, because I knew there was no way Brett was going to cave and let us keep the cat. I didn’t even think the cat would let us keep him.
When we got back from the lake the cat came back, begging for more food. I kept feeding him and tried to contact the neighbors who the kids said owned the cat. I could never catch them at home. Another set of neighbors confirmed my belief, however, that this cat was a stray. But as the days had passed, Brett’s hard heart had become gooey mush for this cat with the jacked-up face and filthy fur.
“You have to take him to the vet and see what’s wrong with him,” he said.
“I have to what?” What was happening to my husband? What was happening to our brilliant plan? It was crumbling to pieces. I was already adopting this cat in my heart. If Brett caved, there’d be no going back!
He looked up local vets and texted me the addresses. I knew that was it. We were going to have a cat for Christmas.
Really when I look at the whole situation, Saber Tooth (as my kids have named him) has adopted us. After just one encounter he decided our family and our home would be the right place for him for whatever crazy reason. Apparently, he’s unaware of my track record with keeping plants and animals alive. I’m doing my best, though, I swear.
Our best laid plans sometimes go awry in life. But that can be for our good and for the good of others. My kids have already discovered that Saber isn’t the mean cat they thought he was, but a cat just doing his best to survive. Now that he’s in our home surrounded by people loving and caring for him he’s the sweetest, nicest cat.
And it's also true that hearts can change. I never thought my husband would ever love a cat. Not ever. For now he only loves this cat. But maybe there's hope that love will expand to cats worldwide and in a few years I'll be posting pictures of me as a crazy cat lady with tons of cats on my lap and roaming my house.