In September 2008, my third marriage ended and my ex-husband kept our pet, a wolf hybrid named Kita that we raised from a pup. I have had a pet for most of my adult life, and these precious animals have fed my soul. After the split, I bought and moved into a townhouse, and by February of 2009, I was ready for a pet.
The women I worked with suggested getting a cat instead of a dog because I traveled often. They assured me that I could leave a cat easily and I wouldn’t have worry about a kennel. I had not had a inside cat since a tabby kitten when I was young and at home.
When I was growing up, we did have lots of cats running around my small country town because my half-brother and two half-sisters routinely brought a stray to us every time they visited. At one time, Dad counted 35 cats running around town he feared we had a hand in bringing there, but they were all outside cats.
Enough said, I was ready. At that time, I worked at the district office for Albuquerque Public Schools as support staff for teachers. We were housed at the Montgomery Complex and did workshops and training there.
I stayed late on a evening in early February for a training I was facilitating, and as I left my office, I heard a cat meowing outside in the bushes. It was a strange cry that I later became very familiar with–a Siamese cry! I made note of it but didn’t think anything more about it.
The next day I had just finished a training across town, and my phone rang with an anxious call from one of my co-workers, “Your cat is here!” She was a cat-owner and lover and had been the strongest voice urging me to get a cat instead of a dog.
“Where are you? Can you come back to the office NOW?” she queried.
I had just finished my presentation, so I agreed to return immediately. She took me outside through the door to my office, and there stood a skittish feline eating the food my co-worker had provided. This distressed cat kept one eye on me and one on his exit route. My friend informed me, “He’s a silver-tip Siamese,” and we oohed and aahed over him.
“Take him home with you tonight! Don’t you want to?” my friend urged me.
“I’m not taking it home tonight! I have to think about it!” I resisted. Needless to say, I went home that night and dreamed of cats all night, so with assistance from my cat expert friend, I bought a litter box and food and took him home the next day.
I named him “Jesse,” a name I was almost given. After going over Jesse with a fine-tooth comb, I realized how gorgeous he was–a silver-tip Siamese but skinny. I was sure he was someone’s pet, so on Saturday, I took him to VetCo and they wanded him to see if he had a chip. He did! They called the owners and the owners called me, giving me full possession of Jesse–I was now a cat owner.
His first big mess shocked me. I was conditioning my Dad’s leather chaps and had them spread out on the living room floor. In my absence for a few short minutes, he peed on Dad’s precious chaps. I was devastated and put them up in a safe place. There was a lot I learned about being a cat owner!
That was ten years ago. Jesse is sixteen years old now and suffers from feline diabetes, so he needs insulin twice a day. He travels with me monthly to Branson and loves to go once he realizes he’s not going to the vet.
My husband, Lin, is not a cat person at all, but he compromised when we married. I think he has grown to like Jesse–they have a morning ritual of a meow-fest. Jesse responds to Lin anytime he’s around, and they go and forth meowing at each other.
Jesse and I also share a morning ritual. I write and read every morning in our library, and he snuggles up close to me–a great way to start the day. In fact, if I don’t go immediately to the library in the morning, he scolds me and goes ahead of me.
For our first three years together, Jesse wasn’t a lap kitty, but in 2012, I had shoulder surgery. He must have sensed my pain because he crawled up into my lap then, and now it has become a nightly ritual if we’re sitting on the loveseat in front of the TV. In fact, Jesse often moves to the arm of the loveseat in anticipation of us joining him.
As Jesse’s aged, I’ve marveled at his resiliency. When he was diagnosed in 2016 with diabetes, he was so sick and had lost from twenty pounds (big, fat cat) to 13 pounds. The disease caused a sad limp and he couldn’t jump anymore. He couldn’t go upstairs to the loft to join me when I worked on my computer. We worked hard to get him back on his feet, and he has stayed steady at 16 pounds now.
Today, I use his ability to go up the stairs as a gauge to his health–it’s a good barometer.
What a joy he has been to me! My Mom said early on, “He’s an angel sent from God! He’s so much company for you.” I agree with her–angels come in different forms and I’m convinced he’s one.