I was passing the time away between classes at the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) meeting in Jackson a few years ago when I heard a common declaration from a patron in the lounge:
“Ohhhhh! I just hate cats!”
I wasn’t shocked because I’ve heard it so many times. I wasn’t always a cat lover myself, so I have a unique insight into what it takes to become an aficionado of cats.
Hating cats is a sort of minor league pastime in the United States. Anywhere you go you can see bumper stickers and T-shirts adorned with cat-hatery. They pretend to be funny, but you have to wonder.
Many people who dislike cats have never been exposed to the right cat. Many times have I heard, “This is my husband’s cat. He never liked cats as a boy, but when we got Sam, he just lost his head. If anything happens to Sam I might as well not go home.”
My introduction to cats was much the same. It was the summer before my freshman year at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. My next door neighbor, Buddy, a senior student, and his wife, Susan, had a line on a mother cat and a kitten at the school. “But if someone doesn’t take these two cats soon, they’ll both be put to sleep!”
Of course, I did end up taking the kitten, and the mother cat found a home, too, just as I knew she would. I named the little one Charlie, like the perfume. She was the most petite little grey devil you ever saw.
Yes, I said devil and I meant devil. Every day that summer I’d study after work in the summer heat in as little clothes as I legally could. Charlie delighted in getting a running start, using my left leg as a tree trunk, running across my lap and down my right leg. She scored points for herself according to how much blood she could draw on each pass.
Frustrated by not wanting to have a cat in the first place, I’d fuss at her, but it did no good. Lesson Number One for Cats: They pay no attention to complaining.
When Charlie met an untimely death I cried for days. I didn’t care if I ever had another cat.
That is until B.D. showed up about a year later. Apparently he either got left behind when his family moved from the neighborhood, or he jumped off the moving van at the last minute. He was big. He was black. And he had the whitest tip on the longest tail anybody ever saw on a cat. He hung around a couple of weeks and then he disappeared one day. I saw him at a neighbors’s house, marched right up and boldly said, “Excuse me, but that’s my cat you have locked up in your house.” Luckily, they were gullible, believed me, and gave him up.
So, for those of you who think you “hate cats”, just realize what I told the lady in Jackson: You just haven’t been introduced to the right cat yet.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.