The Cat That Changed My Mind
I used to consider myself a dog person. I never had a problem with cats but they just seemed so aloof and boring compared to dogs. Clearly I never met the right cats. My first pets that were exclusively mine were two dalmatians named Princess and Lucky. I cared for them from the time I was seven until they passed away in my teens. They were like my babies, so when Princess (the last to go) passed when I was 18, I felt this empty hole in my life. The following year, I was planning on attending a college that allowed pets in certain dorm rooms, with the exception of dogs. So I began to consider getting a cat.
I spent days searching the Internet for cat breeds that were the most friendly and dog-like. The one breed I kept noticing was the beautiful blue eyed cat with the odd name – Ragdoll. These cats were just so beautiful and I couldn't believe what I read about them. These cats are huge! A neutered male Ragdoll Cat can reach 15-25lbs (Mine is actually 25lbs and can reach my waist when he stands up). They are also very sweet and affectionate. So much so that they have to be kept indoors because they tend to walk right up to dogs or cars. They have soft mat- free fur and don't shed much. They sounded perfect for someone who is used to dogs. There was also a Ragdoll breeder about 4 hours away from where I lived. When I visited her site and looked at the pictures of available kittens I couldn't help but fall in love with the photo of one blue mitted male Ragdoll who would one day be known as Tucker. In retrospect, I wish I had taken a look at the cats in the nearby animal shelter before I adopted one from a breeder. I feel quite guilty about that sometimes because those cats really need homes.
I was still in school and staying at home and my father insisted there would be no more pets in his house. But of course I was 18 and, like many 18 year olds, I didn't like being told I couldn't have something I wanted so badly. And also like many 18 year olds, I made an impulsive and selfish decision. So I decided to get my cat anyway. I also blew almost all of my savings money on the $700 adoption fee and supplies for taking care of my new kitten. But oh well, in the end he was worth every penny. I will never forget seeing him for the first time and how surprised I was by his size. Even at three months old, he was not much smaller than a full grown cat. The breeder told me he was the largest of his siblings.
Tucker and I stayed for a few months at home, with Tucker mostly confined to my bedroom (It was quite large and used to be the master bedroom of the house). I also took him outside on a leash and he even came with me to a couple of my veterinary courses at college. At first, I have to admit I was a little cautious with him. You see, I have had numerous experiences with cats where I must have misread their body language. I would be petting a cat, thinking everything is fine, and then suddenly it would put its ears back and either nip or run away. So I always felt like all cats are just unpredictable. Not Tucker. He was always so sweet and playful, he never showed aggression except occasional rough play. We played games, like one where I would dart behind something and peer around at him. He would act like he was stalking me and then jump out at me with his paws up in the air and run away. He started sleeping in my bed with me for a few hours every night, although he would wait for me to fall asleep so it was a surprise to wake up and find a ball of fluff in my face.
When Tucker was about a year old, we went to stay with my mother for a little while until I found a place of my own. Here, he was free to explore the house and I also took him outside on a harness and leash. He was completely spoiled. My mother has always loved animals and was thrilled to have him around. It was here that we first noticed how different this cat was from others I had known. The first thing I noticed was that he followed me from room to room. I used to call him my shadow, I was always turning around and almost stepping on him because he sits so close behind me. Then my mother started telling me about his behavior whenever I would leave. He would always try to come with me which was cute, but apparently he would sit by the door after I walked out and would sometimes meow sadly. I was shocked because I never thought a cat could get so attached to someone. As time went on he became bigger and bigger and more gentle. He gradually stopped playing rough with us and started to cuddle more. He also started to become more vocal with me. If I ask him a question in a certain voice, he will usually meow back. He will do this over and over sometimes if he is in the right mood. Or if he just wants something. He loved everyone he met and no one could resist him.
Then one day, my mother adopted some stray kittens. At first, Tucker acted like he wanted to kill them. I was really worried and predicted that he wouldn't be able to be left alone with them. But it turned out he was just too much of a sweetheart to actually harm the helpless kittens that were so much smaller than him. He put on a good show and acted quite angry whenever they would come near, but when the foolish babies kept coming, he just swatted them lightly with his paw and complained. Eventually he grew to tolerate their presence and then he grew to love them. This was evident to us when one day, one of the kittens got a piece of string wrapped tightly around its leg. When my mother tried to get it off, the kitten began to squirm and squeal. The next thing she knew, Tucker had bitten her and was glaring and growling at her. She was so shocked until she realized that Tucker must have thought she was hurting the kitten. As soon as the kitten got away he was fine again. Then he started attacking my boyfriend whenever he thought I was being hurt. My boyfriend would never hurt me of course, but apparently Tucker thinks I'm being attacked (example: when I'm being tickled or we're wrestling for the remote or fooling around). As long as I'm laughing he's fine, but if I start to protest or get annoyed he becomes upset. He has never defended my boyfriend, however. I've heard stories about cats attacking burglars but I thought it was probably a rare occurrence. I consider myself lucky that a cat of his size wishes to protect me.
Tucker is a unique cat in my opinion. He is quite intelligent as far as cats go, and has learned several tricks including sit, lay down, up, down, paw and roll over. He has many amusing behaviors which was actually the topic of this hub. He also comforts people when they are upset or sick by cuddling and purring loudly. He won't cuddle with just anyone and it has to be his idea or he will get up and leave. He also has to see everything that's going on in “his” home. He will always be somewhere watching us whenever we do anything out of the ordinary, usually right in our face and in the way. He likes to sit in front of the computer monitor and will sometimes meow and paw at me to get attention, although this is a recent development. Whenever he wants anything he's learned to stare and occasionally meow at me until I stand up. Then he will take me to whatever it is that he wants although sometimes it seems like he hasn't made up his mind and he will simply stand in the hallway looking at the different rooms. He has also discovered how to open all the cupboards and a couple times I have come home and, after searching the house, found him shut in one of them. He absolutely HATES anything on his scratching post and will knock it off as soon as he spots it. When he gets to excited while playing, he will appear to lose his mind and race around the apartment at top speed. He makes me laugh everyday and I now realize how wrong I was about cats. Cats can be loyal, cats can be clever and they can be playful. Most importantly cats can actually become attached to a person just like a dog can. And that is why I am now a cat and a dog person.
As I finish typing this, he is curled up on my left side with a paw draped across my arm possessively. I just can't help but wish I had more time with him. It seems so unfair that in ten or fifteen years I will have to go on without my feline friend. But I will always be grateful for meeting him and learning that there is so much more to cats than I ever knew.