If you have cats or dogs, you know that unless you are the only person in your home, the fact that you purchased or adopted them, brought them home, and care for them does not mean diddly. Pets make their own decisions about who belongs to whom. All of which is to say, if you have cats or dogs, you know that really, they have you.
We have four cats. I give them food, water, pets, treats (chicken flavor Temptations only, thankyouverymuch), brush them when I think of it, clean up their hairballs and various other messes, and generally am the person to whom, you would think, they would decide they belong. But no. That is my husband. What does he do that’s so special? He pets them. So do I, of course, but apparently I don’t do it right.
Don’t get me wrong. They love me in their catlike way. They jump in my lap and purr and meow for attention and food. They rub on me to make sure the world knows that I am their (secondary) human. But when my husband gets home from work or walks into the room, they light up with excitement. “OMG YOU GUYS HE’S HERE!!” Apparently I’m married to the Cat Whisperer. I try not to take offense to their obvious and irrational preference, but it’s hard to avoid noticing the way they swarm him. All except for one: Whitey. Whitey is mine. My one true cat.
Non-cat people sometimes tend to think of cats as solitary creatures, wanting only to be left alone to sun themselves in peace. Cat people know this is not true. Whitey follows me around like a little dog most of the time. He meows outside our bedroom door in the morning, starting around 5-ish (when my alarm usually goes off) and stopping only when he hears my feet hit the floor. When I’m in the kitchen working, he’s there eating. Or just watching me. But probably eating.
After he breakfasts for the first time—he’s quite hobbit-like in his eating habits—he follows me upstairs, jumps in my lap for a few cuddles, then curls up either under my desk, or on my desk (a forbidden spot) behind the monitor, where I pretend I don’t see him and he cooperates by pretending he’s not there. And there he remains, till my workday is done, with short breaks for second breakfast, elevenses, and so on, and an occasional flurry of crazy cat activity with the others.
In the evening, he shadows me as I cook dinner or do various other domestic things. If I leave to run an errand, or we go out to eat, he’s always waiting at the front door when we get back. If we watch movies, he’s right there sniffing the popcorn. If the evening takes me back up to my computer, as it so often does, he resumes his daytime station. Then, when it is time for bed, he follows me into the bedroom and hops on the bed for an hour or so of snoozing and cuddling and walking on me in such a way that I always think, “Somebody needs a kibble intervention.” Then he meows at the door to get out for his nighttime snack, and usually that’s the last I see of him till morning. He is my cat. And I am his people.