Here is my cat:
As you can see, she is no beauty. She was even less beautiful when I first saw her (one of her finest attributes is her luxurious fluffiness, but due to illness she was decidedly un-fluffy). It was early February, 1996...I was living in Chicago and spending my Saturdays volunteering at the Anti-Cruelty Society. I loved volunteering there, even though it could be heartbreaking work - some days I was the volunteer who walked the animals to the room where they would be euthanized. I spent their last minutes with them before they were dispatched to another world due to something as simple as a cold (upper respiratory infections spread through an animal shelter quickly, are difficult to resolve with such a large number of animals, and sick animals are unadoptable). I liked to think that the extra affection I spent on them in their last minutes made a difference, but I don't really know. It made a difference to me, though - those were formative moments in my view of life and death.
This Saturday, I was working in the clinic, force-feeding animals who weren't feeling well enough to eat on their own. I was engaged in the task, but not engaged enough to be able to ignore the frisky and very vocal feline across the room - she was extremely vociferous! I stopped to visit her, upon which she promptly rolled on her back and started writhing around with happiness. I was moved by the intense display of affection, though I didn't know then that this is her signature move - she does it with everyone, all day long, no matter the circumstance (dog chasing her? kid pulling her tail?). When I asked about her, I heard that she had come in with her litter of kittens and had been adopted, but was subsequently returned once she developed an upper respiratory infection (now you see why animals with colds are unadoptable...new owners don't want a sick pet). Amazingly, the veterinarian decided she was too good to euthanize and found room for her in quarantine! Annie was set up in a cage, and there she was that day. Also amazingly, no one else had spoken for her.
I already had a cat, and a very small one-bedroom apartment which I shared with the most wonderful and kind roommate in the world...what business did I have fostering this cat and bringing her into this terribly small apartment? But I was crazed and had lost my mind over this cat. Soon, she was mine for keeps.
Bill and I named her Annie, for his favorite author, Ayn Rand...though she now goes only by nicknames, like Nan, Nanners, or Nannie (Nathan thinks the word for cat is Nannie). She was irrepressible from the beginning. I was told to keep her away from my other cat for two weeks so the cats could acclimate to the idea of each other. In less than 1/2 hour she burst out of the bedroom, ran straight up to my other cat, and sniffed her. Madeline hissed and ran away, but Annie was undaunted, had decided she liked Madeline and they were friends shortly thereafter.
This cat has lived in 7 different places. She's been around for the birth of 3 children. She's met countless other animals that I've watched or adopted over the years. I ran over her tail with my rowing machine one day, and she came right back to me and purred. Katie slammed the door on her tail, and amputated a good inch of it, and when I found the cat, she purred at me. She's been chased and petted and carried around by the friends of my children for years now, and she still purrs at me and writhes on the ground. She is still irrepressibly herself!
So anyway, though it sounds crazy, I am hoping I will get through this year like this cat would. She just never even notices if there is a problem - not when she was sick at the Anti-Cruelty Society, not right after she was spayed, not right after her tail was cut off and bleeding, not after people chase her and pull on her hair and crush her with hugs and kisses. I imagine she was this way when she was found on the streets of Chicago, that she was this way right after she had those kittens. She is just how she is, and you could probably amputate anything from her and she would still be that way. She is just as crazy and vocal and writhing as she ever was, and though she is now over 13 years old she's never been different for a day in her life.
Now, of course people may say that Annie is just a cat. She can't read about how she might die on the internet. Her worrying faculties might be less developed than mine might be...but, I may also have some faculties that she may not which could outweigh the fact that I can read and worry. I can direct my thinking away from the negative information if I choose. So Annie is "just" a cat, but here is another important fact: I have known lots of cats. I've seen them react in different circumstances. The fact that Annie does not freak out, that she is herself, DOES make her special, and that is precisely my point.
It's been hard to stay positive or to feel like myself when I can't do everything I can normally do, but I've got a great role model in my crazy cat. Who cares if parts of me are amputated? I didn't need them anyway! And who cares if I'm no beauty? Hopefully my sparkling personality (ha) will prove to be my best selling point. (And I hope not too many people read this post, because I am outing myself as even crazier than I normally will admit to being.)