But I’m Not a Cat Person!

With a show of hands, how many of you consider yourself “cat people”? What enables you to know you are a person who closely identifies with cats? Are you totally sure you prefer cats over dogs or any other pets?

Seems to me the answer to these questions would all have to be yes in order to proudly proclaim, " Ich bin eine Katze Person"

I cannot recall one instance in my life that I felt anything but an unnatural fear of cats. One of the definitions of ailurophobe (fear of cats) includes cringing at the mere presence of a cat. Intense anxiety is also associated with ailurophobes . Everyone who is close to me knows I’m afraid of cats, or at least they think I don’t like cats.

My best friend shares my dislike and or fear of cats, though I think between the two of us, she is much braver about facing her fear head-on. Still when we find ourselves surrounded by a cat, we both feel better knowing we share the same uncomfortable feelings.

My definition of an Adorable Kitty

cats.picturesarehere.com
cats.picturesarehere.com

No Way Anyone Dislikes Kittens

 Even I cannot dislike a kitten. They are very cute to me and I often times think, ‘if they would just stay kittens, I could learn to like them.’ Of course there is no way to prevent a cute kitten from turning into a big ole scary cat, so I’m back to my original statement; I’m not a cat person.

Yes You Are!

Apparently my fear of cats stops me from seeing something that everyone else around me sees or identifies in me. Those of my friends who have owned cats or who just like cats will argue me down that I am a cat person and I just don’t know it. Seems the more I assert opposition to their belief, the more pronounced their opinions become.

“You’re a cat person”, they tell me.

“No I’m not” I respond.

“YES you are! They declare

What is it about me that make them all so confident? What type of personality is drawn to cats and vice versa?

Cat People

Believe it or not I could google my question and come up with some acceptable answers. I included one example taken from a popular news provider

How About You?

Are you afraid of cats?

See results without voting

My Fear – Product of Bad Experiences

 

This writing would not be complete if I did not share my bad experiences with felines; experiences which greatly contribute to my fear of cats.

My earliest experience centers on dear old dad. (He passed away when I was 14 years old)  We were living in Philly at the time. One day I remember being called into the dining room and seeing a small box containing a kitten.  Having never been around any type of animal for any length of time, we 3 girls were all nervous of this active animal. While my father seemed to enjoy the antics of his kitten, it made us uncomfortable. Had my father allowed us to adjust to the kitten at our own speed and in our own way, perhaps our apprehension would have only taken moments to vanish. However that was not the case. Just as in most experiences involving change and adaptation, my father adopted his “do it my way and do it NOW” stance.  We were told to pet the kitten. We resisted, so we were ordered to do so. When we timidly stuck out our hands to touch the kitten quickly so that we could pull back our hands, my father grabbed our hands and forced us to touch the kitten for as long as he deemed appropriate. He even made us physically stroke and pet the cat.

By the time he was finished “introducing” us to the kitten, we were all scared of it.  Watching it running all around our dining room, climbing the curtains, and showing its claws, did nothing but deepen the fear we felt.  I was now officially scared of cats.  I was tense and stressed whenever we were forced to be around it. I was happy when it was put outside to stay in our small backyard, so that I could feel safe again in my home.

The best day of my life, up to that point, was finding out the kitten was gone.  Looking back on it, I wonder why someone would take all the fun out of an experience that was supposed to bring happiness. Many children look back on their first pets with fondness. Not me, I look back on our first pet as a terrifying experience. 

Being an active kitten got the best of our “pet” in the end. It somehow managed to get out of our backyard and wandered into the alley.  I remember looking at its remains as it looked as though it had been eaten or at least stomped by a stray dog. At least that is what we were told, that a dog probably killed it.  I was not upset in the least. I felt happy that the intruder was gone.

Since none of us responded well to having the kitten, my father never again tried to force one on us.  Not that he didn’t babysit a cat once or twice, just that he made sure to keep it in the basement where we didn’t have to encounter it.

My father had a cat most of his life at home with his parents. He recalled fond memories of his cat, although he also recalled an instance when his cat was hurled down the steps by my grandfather. Evidently it had the misfortune to release gas while the family was eating. My grandfather responded with anger and violence. My father said the cat did not die however. I remember concluding from that horrible experience that cats must be stronger than they look.

Growing Older and More Afraid

I never seemed to outgrow my fear of cats. It seemed to me whenever I was around a cat, I attracted their interest. To this very day, I am well aware that a cat will go out of its way to come near me, if I am in any way close to it. The rubbing itself against my legs is what I hate the most, so that is of course what they all seem to want to do when I am near.

I finally began describing to my family and friends what it would do to me if a cat ever jumped on my lap. People who just don’t like cats would usher the cat away from them even if it meant picking up the cat and placing it on the floor.

If a cat jumped on my lap, I would sit there almost hysterical, screaming for someone to get it off me, so that I wouldn’t have to touch it. I think that falls into the abnormal fear category.

My sister and I have actually been chased by a cat as young kids. In retrospect I wonder if it thought we were playing a game with it. We took off running from the cat and the cat in turn took off chasing us. We ran screaming to our family car and jumped in just before the cat reached our car and dove underneath it. We sat petrified, as if the cat would somehow be smart enough to open the car door and shout, "BOO" at us. It ended up being just another reason for me to be afraid of cats.

The Cat That Helped Me Out

The closest I came to developing a warm feeling for any cat, was the cat that I ended up feeding while I lived in rural southeast Illinois. This place we called home for nearly 3 years was a town basically built on corn fields. With corn fields come plenty of mice. The only thing that scares me more than cats of course, are mice.  Since mice only need an opening the size of a quarter to gain entrance into a home, we had plenty of mice wherever we lived.

I was told cats keep mice away, so to encourage one to hang around we started preparing a tray of milk and water for her. It worked, in fact she brought a friend and in no time our field mouse problem disappeared.

I never touched the cat, but I did regularly feed it, and even said hello to it on a regularly basis, as my appreciation for her mouse hunting skills increased.

She became my security blanket, knowing she was outside keeping the scary mice away made me feel much safer and comfortable. I actually appreciated the cat, something I never thought I would feel about such animals.

Will I Ever Become a Cat Person?

Given my propensity to overreact when a cat comes near me, I wonder if I will ever see what others see in their feline friends.  I refer to that undiscovered part of myself as the cat lover in hiding. The child who probably would have grown to love cats had she been given a chance to appreciate them without any type of force.

My husband, to this day says I would love a cat, that it would fit my personality perfectly. One day I would love to discover my inner cat. For now though, I still am not a cat person.

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Comments 43 comments

soupdragon 5 years ago

I was wary of cats once, but one day a cat walked into my life and things were never the same again... I suspect the same thing will happen with you, but with a dog. I doubt you'll ever turn into a cat lover, whatever people say, I think they're simply trying to turn you on to them but I think you may come to tolerate them given the right circumstances.

You have what's known as a phobia, an irrational fear of something. It can be treated, but whether it's worth the bother is entirely up you and how much it cramps your lifestyle, I suspect not a great deal. But thats ok, you're not a hater, they're the only ones who worry me.


soupdragon 5 years ago

I think it's simply what you're used to, isn't it? If you've lived with cats you won't fear them. I used to be frightened of dogs, and with good reason, I had some bad experiances of dogs when I was a kid (they looked so much bigger to me then, sometimes they were bigger than me) and I was terrified of them. Many years later my mother got a dog and I gradually lost my fear of him, and them. I'm still not entirely comfortable around strange dogs, but I can keep it under control. Dogs can sense fear, after all.


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Jen's Solitude 5 years ago from Delaware Author

Hi Mook! Thanks for your comment. My father was never aware of how the fear of being forced to pet a cat before I became comfortable with its presence impacted me. Although I seem to be the only one of my siblings affected to this degree, it doesn't change the fact that it has always remained with me.


Mook 5 years ago

Thank you for this story! I also have ailurophobia, and everyone teases me mercilessly about it. These are the same people who scream at a spider, or cry in the dark. It's just a fear.

My parents don't understand about my fear - they think I'm simply "not a cat person" and antagonize me about my "silly made-up fear" "just to get attention". They've never seen me around a cat.

I understand completely about the cat-on-lap part. If I were just not a cat person, I would be able to brush the cat off. But I have vivid nightmares of sitting frozen with cats circling me, crawling over my lap.


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Yes, thanks so much for your insight. My friends who love cats tell me my personality is suited to cats, the don't bother me and I won't bother you attitude. I really do see that part of the equation, sadly not much else makes sense regarding my fear. I know it is real and it runs deep, but that is about it. Still your comment was helpful so thanks for dropping in on me.


Eeyore68 6 years ago

I am a "cat person" to the 'enth degree. In fact, I am studying Feline Behavior and Psychology in school right now in an effot to work as a Feline Behavior Consultant. I literally dont know how to live without a cat, so I have a very hard time understanding your fear.

I do believe that most fears and prejudices (which is what this really is) come from ignorance. So education and experience is probably the best cure. My experience with cats tells me they are safe and extremely affectionate and loyal companions. But now, in school, I've seen the science that proves it.

There was nothing in your first experience with the kitten and your dad that should instill fear. It seems the fear was there first.

There are more cats kept as pets than any other animal, and yet how many reports have you heard of pet cats turning on their owners or killing anyone?

And just FYI: Cats are very different behaviorally than dogs. They have much more decorem and civility. Therefore in greeting they are never boisterous, jumpy, or loud. Because of this they are attracted to people who practice this same proper behavior. That is why people who are in there face, clapping their hands, snapping, loudly calling them, etc. are less likely to attract a cats attention than he person that is sitting quietly and ignoring them


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

LOL, my sister just gave me a puppy that wags its tail, barks and even makes this cute whining sound when I squeeze its middle. My kind of "pet" for sure! :0


lxxy profile image

lxxy 6 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

Well, I'll just send a chia pet your way. And perhaps a companion pet rock garden! ;)


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Oh my Ixxy, rodents? What can I say, I wish I shared your bravery, but alas I have trouble with all the creatures you've listed. LOL Thanks for stopping by.


lxxy profile image

lxxy 6 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

A fear of cats...I think everyone has a fear of cats, especially the bigger ones. But they're so cute!

I love all animals, especially rodents--I keep rats! Imagine how many people freak out about them. So I understand where you're coming from.

I don't dislike dogs, but they're a bit much for me sometimes. Especially jumpy, prancy, whiny ones.


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

MFB and valeriebelew, appreciated both your comments. Must be nice to like them both equally. Actually I am afraid of dogs and cats but am willing to get acquainted with dogs and learn to feel comfortable around certain ones. Not so with cats and evidently I am the only one in my family that suffers this long term effect from being forced to pet one. Valerie it will come as no surprise to you that my father's legacy to his daughters seems to consist of mostly unpleasant memories.


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valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

Hi Jen, I am both a cat and a dog person. it seems to me you have diagnosed your own problem. Your father was the problem, not the cat. From what you described, he came from a violent family, and did not know how to deal with kids of his own. My parents generally did not do such things, but on one occasion they forced us to eat Brussels Sprouts, and it was years before I would even try one. Force does not work, bottom line.

As silly as this sounds, what you are experiencing is PYSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Your fear is actually about the association of cats with your father's action, but you will most likely continue fearing cats unless you somehow manage to slowly unlearn the fear response. There is a therapy technique for this; however, you can also just stay away from cats. It isn't necessary for everyone to be a cat person. Some who love cats have allergies and can't be around them, anyway. If having the phobia bothers you, as I said, desensitization works well with phobias, but it might be more trouble or expense than the problem is worth to you. Just know that your father's force planted the fear, not the actual presence of the cat, but that there is now a strong association between the two. That is the problem. Enjoyed this site. (: v


MFB III profile image

MFB III 6 years ago from United States

I have owned several cats in the past, but I am so much more into dogs, they seem to enjoy human contact better then any cat I owned although one did cuddle with me at night. I do enjoy playing shoestring with any cat. anytime, it is so much fun to watch them pounce and swat at the string. Lovely hub on pets~~~~MFB III


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Hi niffty@50, LOVE your user-name! I totally do shy away from cats, I can't even picture myself petting a cat let alone picking one up. I think I should make just touching a cat one of my long-term goals, maybe then they will stay away from me. Thanks for the advice!


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nifty@50 6 years ago

Cats gravitate towards people that shy away from them because cats like their space! If you pick them up and hold them they will keep away from you. You really should be afraid of dogs, they maul and kill people every day! Maybe it's those old wive's tales about cats sucking the breath out of babies!


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

LOL, because that happens to me as well. I don't pet cats and make sure to keep a distance between them and me, it doesn't matter though, they still make a bee-line for me. I think I throw off a fear scent or something. I tell my family that I believe cats get together and plot against me, egging on each other, "watch what happens when I get near her" I imagine them saying to one another. Then I see them laughing hysterically as I shudder if they look like they will head my way. No paranoia here though! :-)


mailxpress profile image

mailxpress 6 years ago from New York

Hi Jen,

What a cat story. I personally love all animals but since I can remember I have always feared cats. I have many friends who have a cat each and when I go over I'll pet it with one finger and let it know I like them but I do truly fear them. Even kittens. Cats are very smart, super fast, and I feel can hurt you within a minute if you piss them off. The funny part is that when I go to my friends home every time the cats want to come near me. I feel animals sense when you are liked and then want attention from you. I would never be cruel to a cat or kitten but when I see one on the street I stay clear away. I get so nervous.

mailxpress


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Thank you my friend. :-)


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

And loved your interview this week!


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

That's too funny Dolores. Wouldn't that be something if the thing I fear so much ended up becoming my best friend. lol Thanks for telling me your story.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Jen - I always laughed at 'cat people' with their cat stories and all about how great they were. I was even allergic to them. Then we found a beat up little kitten out in the gutter on a dark and stormy night, took it in - we had no choice. Now, I bore people to death with cute stories about my cat, Banjo. My allergy has disappeared. Watch out! There may be a cute little kitty cat lurking in the wings, waiting to turn you into a complete fool, like me!


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

I wonder which one scares me the most. It is hard to pick because both mice and cats terrify me. Maybe the one that scares me the most is the one that is closest to me at the time. lol Thanks for commenting, nice to meet you.


Betty Reid profile image

Betty Reid 6 years ago from Texas

Very funny. One of my coworkers was also terrified of cats, but we don't know why. I am afraid of mice.


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Nice to see you Paradise7 and thanks. I suppose he was so intent on what he wanted, he didn't really care if we wanted it too. Wasn't the first time and sure wasn't the last he exhibited such behavior.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

I'm so sorry your were traumatized by a kitten when you were little. Dad was really a bully to not let you approach something new at your own pace.

I like both cats and dogs, but I really think I like dogs better. Even though I've been bitten by a dog. For some reason most animals don't scare me, much!


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Thank you McWebster. My husband loves dogs. I am not totally comfortable around them, but at least willing to give them a try. I always imagined myself with a dog that fit my personality, laid back and unexcitable, resting a lot. :-)


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MCWebster 6 years ago

Good hub. Very honest and introspective. For years I believed that I was solely a cat person, until I moved out of the house, got married and got dogs! Now we have two wonderful and beautiful dogs, and no cats - which is just as well because I'm allergic to them.:)


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

So you are one of those people are you Mickey? I guess it is OK, you seem really nice. (smile) Thanks for the comment


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Jen- I thought you were a cat person! Very nice read. I've always been a cat person but I can't have pets now. Thanks Jen.


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Oh wow Linda, that sounds like it would make a hysterical hub. I guess you really have a knack of finding unfriendly wild things. Maybe they are just resentful that it took so long for them to find suitable homes? LOL Thanks for the laugh!


Linda Myshrall 6 years ago

Hey Jen, Great stuff as usual. The only cat I ever owned was a rescue kitten that I found in a dumpster behind a grocery store. It was really wild (probably feral) and like your first experience, climbed drapes and stuck its fingernails in things I held dear. The coup de grâce in that relationship was the day that wild thing raced around through my apartment and ended up on top of the cage of my Parrot (another rescue, and, yes, mean as a rattlesnake). The cat got her claws hooked on the cage, panicked, and remained trapped by her own claws while Gator (short for alligator,) the psycho bird from h*$$ just pecked away. The whole mess toppled to the floor and Gator got out. So, no, I don't think I'm a cat person either. Or a fan of mean parrots... Loved this, thumbs up!


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Hi Internetwriter and GarnetBird, thank you both for your insightful comments. I do attribute this fear to that bad experience with my dad, and considering all he subjected us to, as far as abusive behaviour, the cat incident was a walk in the park. You are both very kind and reassuring, it has not gone unnoticed and is greatly appreciated.


GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 6 years ago from Northern California

Your Father traumatized you. How sad, and how brave of you to have an outdoor "mouser" cat inspite of it. I found your Hub unique and fascinating. I have a fear of heights, although I love horses and I can ride in a jet, etc.--stairs and steep places frighten me. If I can hike along a steep trail I'm okay, but stairs and escalators make me feel very uncomfortable. My idea of pure h-ll would be a steep, scary roller coaster with no way out.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

That was a fascinating hub. I'll admit, I'm a cat person, but I can understand, why you are not. You somehow can't help but identify cats with being forced to pet one when you were not ready. Phobias are that way, I am afraid of snakes, yet, there are people who even like to wear their snake around their neck, I on the other hand, want to run when I see one.

How we relate to animals varies from person to person, I know other people who are afraid of cats and even though I find it hard to understand it at first, I remember how I feel about snakes and I then understand how they feel.

So what if you not a cat person. You are a very kind and loving person, who has given so much. I really enjoy reading your hubs and I really enjoyed reading this one. Thanks for sharing.


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Pat I have friends who are considerate like you. I have no problem visiting them knowing I won't have to worry about their cat/cats.

Ethel you give me the shivers just thinking about cats sitting all around me!

Thank you both for your comments. :-)


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ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

I am not a cat person either Jen. I do quite like them though but it is just we always kept dogs. My brother at one time had six cats and we soon got used to them sitting all over us and whatever chair we sat on.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Entertaining hub, but a bit sad because it sounds like you will never become a cat person.

Pat writes - I have 2 cats that I love, but I always shut them in the laundry room when guests are in my house. If there is a group of people, someone will almost always say, "Let the cats out, I like them", but that seems to selfish because it assumes that everybody likes cats!

In fact, 2 of my friends are very frightened, as you describe.

I think it's a good thing we are all different, as life could be boring if we were all the same.


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Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Good Morning Tammy,billyaustindillon, and Lecie! Thank all 3 of you for leaving comments for me this morning.

Tammy why can't we all just get along like your dogs and cat? Amazing!

billyaustindillon, well if a dog can be scared, I somehow don't feel as bad for being afraid. lol Thank you for sharing that with me.

Lecie, great points to consider! I am so busy running from cats I didn't even take time to notice they exhibit behaviors that could actually assist me in not fearing them so much. I will try to learn more about them, after all knowledge is power right? Thanks a million!


Lecie 6 years ago

i'm a major cat person, most of the time i can be found on all fours communicating with my cat. cats understand more than people think. often times they seek to comfort those that they sense are afraid, injured or busy. it's like they're saying, hey, no worries. just take some time out to pet my silky fur and you will feel better or play with me and i will make you laugh. most cases as kittens or young adults they can be wild and not listen. when they mature they spend most of the time sleeping or seeking your attention. i have social phobias and can't go outside very much so i'm unable to have a dog. a cat doesn't need to go outside so they are a much better match for me. plus i still have a scar on my head where i got 8 stitches at the age of 3 from a dog attack. i'm weary of dogs ever since. i don't fear them but i make sure i learn all that i can about them before approaching them. maybe you should ask your "friends" about the cats first. like what behavior they have. are they wild or docile. have they ever attacked anyone or shown aggression. you should also look up information to watch the cats body language. such as when their pupils are big as saucers you should not approach them but throw their favorite toy instead. also when their tail bushes out or their ears go back are other tell-tale signs not to approach. watch and learn about them and maybe your fear will start to ease up. like me with my fear of dogs, i'm no longer afraid of them, i'm just very cautious and weary of them. they say animals sense fear and will use that to show dominance when ever they can. good luck. nice hub.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Nice article Jen - funny my big tough cattle dog has always been afraid of cats from when he got scratched once - so I can always understand when people are scared of them.


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

Hilarious...Cats can be a bit crazy...I had one who attacked people when they came to our apartment. My sister was badly bitten by a cat, and she likes cats. I now have a long haired tabby cat who is at least 14 years old plus two dogs and they all get along. I enjoyed reading this. Hope you can get over your fear.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Well it certainly does sound like you are ready for 2 new additions to your family, BK. LOL I know you will be very happy with your new found feline friend and I am happy for you, even if I wouldn't BE you, yet. (smile)


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Such a natural progression there - from fear of cats to greater fear of mice! I love it! I wonder what it is about you that has people thinking you are a cat person.

As for me, Jen's Solitude...I...LOVE...Cats! I grew up with cats and have had them all my life until a few years ago when my last two grew old and died - I was a mess. So I took a few years off to get on with my life. Sob!

However...yes, it had to happen - today..I was tutoring a student at his home and who should step out of the bedroom but this incredibly good-looking 6 months old female tabby - and I swooned. Needless to say - I played hard with that kitten. Whew! The big sister showed up and saw how happy I was and said she may then let her kitty grow up and mate her - and I even said I would take not one but two. It is time!

Yet, I know so many afraid of cats - especially tall men. I don't know why it is tall men - but they seem to have no love for cats and will even run. Which is hilarious.

Well, thanks for letting me talk about the new kitty in my life which I will play with tomorrow when I tutor - I was even here rolling a ball of yarn...OK, you are probably tired of all this cat talk.

Fun hub! Thanks so much!

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