lately, when someone asks me how many cats i have, i've taken to holding up 4 fingers, like saying the number out loud is some sort of admission of guilt. and if i'm lucky, instead of outright derision, i'll be met with a look of pity and an indulgent smirk.
it doesn't help that i'm a single 35 year old female librarian. i'm pretty thoroughly a stereotype. but the cat thing really isn't my fault. i grew up in a little apartment with my parents and brother, so cats were really the biggest pet you could have, and we had cats the entire time i lived there. people are often fond of the kind of pet they grew up with. it's perfectly normal.
but 4? ok. maybe that's a bit self-indulgent. i got the 2nd one to keep the first company while i was at work. but they didn't really get along, so when a neighbor found a stray and asked if i was interested in taking him in, i didn't hesitate. and i said 3. never more than 3. that would just be crazy! and then this happened on instagram:
shut up, clearly that cat had to come home with me. i obviously had no choice but to take him in!
whenever someone makes fun of me or looks at me funny or calls me a crazy cat lady, i get a bit tongue-tied. i want to defend myself, but i know i shouldn't have to. i know it shouldn't matter what anyone thinks of me. but i'm a 35 year old single lady, and often i feel in a vulnerable position. what if i am crazy? what if i'm weird and un-date-able? women only have value while they're fuckable, and lord knows i'm past my prime in terms of looks, so clearly my decision to have 4 cats is a statement to the world that i've decided to give up and embrace spinsterhood (which i *do* joke about. it's not the worst fate.) but my decision to have 4 cats has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that they utterly and truly bring me nothing but pure joy.
ok, maybe that's the teensiest, tiniest bit hyperbolic. cleaning puke off my freshly-washed comforter or wiping poop off a writhing, yowling cat's foot will never bring me joy. but those moments are far, far fewer than the moments of pure joy. i can't explain to you how i feel when a happy, purring cat looks up from my lap with sleepy eyes and gives me that contented half-meow.
and whenever i hear or see things that make me sad, people treating each other awfully, people treating animals awfully, i look at my cats and think, "i can't make everything better in the world, but i can make everything awesome for THEM. i can do just that little bit of good and treat these 4 little creatures with all the love and kindness that i wish i was willing and able to give the rest of the world."
and that fills me with pure joy.
i can only hope that you can find something that gives you that feeling on a regular basis. spouse, kid, pet, plants, volunteering, hobbies, work. whatever. i won't ever mock you for finding some harmless thing that makes you truly happy.
i wish that for you, with all my heart.
so maybe cut me some slack with the 4 cats, k?
*(see more of my cats on instagram)