I don’t consider myself a cat person. For one thing, I’ve been allergic to them for pretty much my whole life. For another, I’ve mostly owned dogs. A few years ago, thanks to a friend introducing me to a certain guy, all of that changed. When I first met these two, my first thought was that neither of them would probably ever like me much. And I figured that was ok, because fair enough, I can’t really snuggle up to them without entering into a world of pain.

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Going on 7 years later, I’m happy to say that I was dead wrong about that. Not only have I come to know the incredible force that is kitty cat affection, I also seem to have built up some kind of immunity that lets me snuggle at will. (Allegra also plays a part in this.)

I reckon that pets are akin to the arts, and music: you can’t calculate what they add to your life, but you need them. It’s more than need: it’s something your spirit craves, whether you realize it or not. A dog will wreck the furniture running to greet you. A cat will wreck the furniture, but not for that reason; you might not see it on the surface, but a cat’s love runs deep. It rumbles inside, like the purring motor that seems to come straight from their hearts.

I know I certainly never could have expected or added up how much our kitties have added to our lives - how much the kitties that came into our lives thanks to the arrival of the Man of the House, could have made our home even more wonderful. The love sneaks up on you, like a cat without a bell. Suddenly it’s just there (and you might be tripping over it).

My mom has a photo album full of family moments from a time long before I was born. It contains lots of snapshots, particularly of a gang of dachshunds who were clearly as dearly loved as they are now dearly departed. It makes me sad to look at it, knowing the love that surrounded those doggos, and the grief that will have accompanied each of their trips over the rainbow bridge. Somewhere in my own house, and certainly on hard drives, are many, many photographs of my own dogs. The most recent one, Jimmy, was ridiculously photogenic, a total ham in front of the camera. The ghost of his sweet loyal self rests upon them, so I can hardly bear to look.

Still, none of us can resist photographing our pets! They say that you make pictures of what you love, what you fear to lose. They are beloved, vulnerable, precious.

These days, I look forward to checking on my favorite Instagram cats almost as much as I look forward to my morning coffee. They are adorable and hilarious, and fill my heart with smiles! Cats are kinda like people: they don’t have to love you, but they might choose to. This makes any attention of the feline kind especially poignant, because you can only really earn it through mutual respect. These days, I also spoil the bejesus out of this girl, in part because spoiling “people” that I care about is one of my favorite activities, and in part because of something heartbreaking that happened last fall.

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The handsome fellow pictured below left us. He jumped out of a box one night to skip out the front door - an innocent enough adventure that he had enjoyed many times. Since his sister was out there with him, we went to bed without qualms. And, in spite of hours, days, weeks of frantic & impassioned searching, we have not seen him since.

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He is as missed as he was loved. As with everything else in last year’s string of gut-wrenching losses, we are grateful for the time we had with him. And we hold on to hope: maybe he won’t show back up at our door, but maybe, just maybe, he’s being loved in someone else’s house. In the end, it’s far better to have cherished and loved a pet for a while than to never have had one at all!