A Letter to My Cat
I’m a total cat lady. Anyone who has met me knows this. You don’t even need to ask me if I have cats. You can tell from the hair on my suits and the lint rollers that are a constant fixture in my life. My two boys, Sheldon and Loki (who has sat here with me as I’ve written this review), are always a favorite topic of discussion and I love talking about them and their little quirks – like how both of them have twenty-three toes but in different places, Loki’s fear of shoes, Sheldon’s tendency to steal socks and break into cabinets, or Loki’s gorgeously mismatched eyes. I can go on forever about them.
The folks in “A Letter to My Cat” probably could, too.
Instead, they turn their love into short letters to the cat (or cats, in some cases). Some letters talk about how they met their cats. Others talk about how their cats changed their lives. For some of the owners in the book, their cats were there for them during incredibly difficult times in their lives. For others, they stepped in and met their furry friends during a rough time in their cat’s life only to have that furry ball of determination change the way they look at the world.
The contributors range from musicians, television writers, actors, athletes, children, veterinarians, veterans, and more.
The owners of famous Internet personality felines Colonel Meow and Li’l Bub both contribute as does Stephen Simmons, a homeless veteran whose “adventure cat,” Burma, and dog Puppi were featured in a Kickstarter photography project a couple of years back. Other contributors include veterinarians who’ve taken in “lost causes” including Scooter, a paralyzed therapy cat, and Toast – a cat no one ever thought would walk again. The prime minister of Canada’s wife talks about their rescue cat – a scrawny little kitten who needed a second chance at life – and Howard Stern (yes, that one) providers pictures of his wife and their blind, one-eyed beauty, Bella.
I won’t lie to you guys.
I get a little emotional when it comes to pets and family and such. But it’s hard not to when it comes to stories like that of Jesse Knott and Koshka whose relationship began in a small, war-torn village in Afghanistan and continues today thanks to the kindness of others. Then their’s children’s book author and illustrator Nina Laden’s touching farewell to her cat, Cali, whose battle with cancer ended shortly after she wrote her letter.
And so, with the inspiration this book has given me, here are letters to my cats:
I should have known from that very first picture posted of you on Facebook that you were going to be trouble. Sure, you were barely seconds old at the time but even then I could tell. Your picture at six weeks just confirmed it. You looked like a little kid who didn’t know how to stand still. But my mom picked you out anyway. You were a surprise Christmas present for all of five seconds before she let it slip and then my sister about your crazy amount of toes. I didn’t remember desperately wanting a polydactyl kitten as a child – these are just the things parents remember, I guess.
I read somewhere that polydactyls are supposed to be very chill cats. People who have had them often say they are the best cats they’ve ever had. I wonder what went wrong with you. There’s a reason that your nickname is “Douchebag” and you’re frequently called an asshole. It’s because you are both. You steal everyone’s socks. You somehow use your “opposable thumbs” to get into cupboards and open latches. You flip over water bowls when you’re upset about something – or presumably just when you feel like it. You bully all the other animals – except for Loki, who you have always seemed to love unconditionally. (You also once hilariously smacked my roommate so hard his head flew back into the wall but I don’t blame you for that. He was asking for it.)
And yet at night you cuddle up with me. You purr happily as you use my for nothing more than warmth, I’m sure. You’re the first pet I ever had on my own and without you I’m not sure I would have gotten through law school. Granted, your chewing the covers of my books and shredding – then eating – my papers wasn’t exactly helpful. But coming home to your stupid, furry face was what I needed to keep it together and succeed.
I love you, douche.
And, to Loki:
You are my special little boy. I never thought I’d be the kind of person to get their cat off of Craigslist but what can I say? I was bored in class and some how managed to be browsing the pet section at the absolute perfect time. Forty dollars and a very shady Circle K rendezvous later I had you in my arms. Tiny, malnourished, sick, and very much a boy despite what the people had said. (It’s okay, I like boy cats better so it worked out great.) You looked up at me with so much love – with your extra toes and your two different colored eyes – like you knew you’d finally found a sucker and that everything would finally be all right.
I don’t know where I’d be with out you, bud. You and Sheldon compliment each other. He’s quirky and neurotic, you’re loving… and also neurotic. I will never understand your fear of shoes or how the slightest movement will send you running in fear but scantily clad women being loudly and brutally murdered in slasher films on the television won’t even phase you. But I will always love how much you love toys – especially your sock monkey that decidedly looks anything like a monkey any more at this point. And I will always love being able to joke that both of us have autoimmune diseases.
I love you and definitely have moments where I’ve just been lost in my thoughts. Well, namely just one thought: “Damn, you are a gorgeous cat.” You’ve been with me since my second year of law school and I’m looking forward to the three of us figuring out what to do next.
At times funny and at other times emotional, A Letter to My Cat is a great read for pet lovers – especially those with cats in their lives. If nothing else it validates our craziness and proves that we’re not the only ones a little bit too obsessed with our cats.