For a long time, we refused to get another cat. Not after what happened to the last one.
I don't think you can really blame us . . .
We once had the most beautful little white fluffy cat named Snowball. We got her from a little girl at a soccer practice at the neighboring grade school playground who, as often happens, had a box of kittens that she needed to give away. The kids and I were one of the first people to see them, so we got the pick of the litter. She was a sweet little outdoor cat, and the kids really loved her.
Early one morning I went out to take a bike ride. We live on the corner of a fairly busy rural intersection. As I turned the corner, there on the road was our precious kitty. It looked like she had just been hit. I braked and swerved and bumped across our garden area on my bike, as that was the shortest route to the front door. I ran in and burst out "Snowball has been hit by a car! She's on the road!" All I could think is that we couldn't just leave her there, that we needed to take care of her poor little lifeless body.
Just a few moments later, Mark and I were back out there to retrieve her. But someone had beat us to her. A white pickup truck was pulled off to the side of the road, and we saw a man throw a shovel into the back. He had already scooped up Snowball, and before we could react, he jumped into his truck and drove away. We HOPE that it was animal control, but this is north Idaho, right? Any sort of crazy could have picked her up. She would have been beautiful stuffed - if you like that sort of thing. I wish I could say I am joking, but there are people out there that would do something like that . . . sick . . .
So, ever since then, and this was about 9 years ago, we decided that IF we ever had a cat again, it would have to be an indoor cat. And since we have had several bad experiences with cats peeing all over everything in our garage (the neighbor's cats-they've since moved away) that seemed very unlikely to happen.
But, you already know how this story ends. We did get another kitty. There is something about little boys and (not so little) girls who ask, to the point of pleading, for a pet kitty.
So one day, Mark was at our friend's house, and they had kittens, and he came in the door with the cutest little furball tucked inside of his jacket. Usually I could resist any kitten, but \she just jumped out of his coat and stole my heart. She just seemed to fit right in. And it was immediately evident that she was very well trained in matters of the litter box. (At first we thought she was a "he", because that's what we were told and didn't think we needed to double-check, and so the kids named "him" Ninja because of the way that kitty leaped off the sofa and did a backflip-twist in midair and landed on her feet. But the name stuck.)
But I still kinda kept my distance. The trauma of Snowball, along with several childhood cats that were also killed by cars had everything to do with it. But one night, a little over a month ago, I was awakened by a crash, and a loud "meow." I looked everywhere for Ninja, but couldn't find her any where. Turns out that it must have been a neighbor's cat outside our window that I heard, because Ninja turned up the next morning, safe and sound. But I was so glad to see her, that I let down my guard and held her and snuggled her. She was my little buddy, and from that point on I would pick her up and snuggle her just like the kids do.
About a month ago, I started getting slightly itchy eyes. Then one morning I woke up with a bad rash on my eyelids. It felt like they'd been scratched and they stung. I thought that maybe my makeup or mascara had gotten contaminated somehow, so I threw them out. My eyes got better after a day or two. Then, same thing happened again, only my eyelids also swelled up. Red swollen eyelids, so lovely. I bought a different brand of makeup. That had to be it. But it happened again. And again. Finally, I realized what I had been pushing from my mind. The problems with my eyes cooincided with times a day or two after I had held and petted and scratched Ninja behind the ears, the way kitties like.
So our beloved Ninja is still well loved by me, but from afar. The kids can play with her, but I can only watch while they bond - and I love that. But no more holding her for me. So, the wall that protects my heart is present once again.
I am just glad that her presence in the house doesn't bother me.
It's hard to get attached to a friend, or a pet, only to have that friendship challenged by time or distance (or allergies). It's something that we all have experienced ourselves, in one way or another. But what is the lesson here that I need to learn this time? I am still trying to figure that one out . . .