A day or two ago, a post about CatCon LA showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. Sporting the tagline “It’s like Comic-Con…but for cat people,” CatCon LA is “part expo, part symposium,” and will, according to its website, feature “the world’s top cat-centric merchandise including furniture, art, toys and clothing for those of us who possess a great love of the feline.” There will also be speakers, including Simon Tofield, the creator of the brilliant Simon’s Cat animated cartoons. I’ve never really understood the appeal of Comic-Con, but CatCon kinda makes me wish Los Angeles weren’t so far away.
Go ahead, roll your eyes.
One of the unexpected benefits of being engaged: I can embrace my love of felines without fear of being labeled and dismissed as a stereotype: the single middle-aged crazy cat lady.
I’ll just be a married middle-aged crazy cat lady.
For the record, there is nothing wrong with being a cat lady, or a cat person, single or married, crazy or crazier. Though I confess: I cringe whenever I find myself at the grocery checkout, buying a stash of microwaveable meals, a couple bottles of wine, and 20 cans of cat food. Add chocolate, I’m a walking cliché.
And yet: my cats are really the only creatures who’ve been my constant companions, day in and day out, greeting me every morning, welcoming me at the door every night. I have wonderful friends and human family I love dearly, but none of them wakes me up purring with a chin resting on my pillow, or perches in the front window, anxiously awaiting my arrival home.
When I met Steve, I had four cats. I lost my Roscoe–who is his own story–only a month or so into our relationship, leaving me with the three girls: Eliza Jane, Charlie Kate, and Lolita. To Steve’s great credit, he never balked at my plentiful furry roommates. My mother has long told me that when it came to choosing a partner I should (and I quote) “Listen to your cats!” Had I followed her advice, I could have saved myself and several people I cared about some heartache over the years. There was genuinely sweet “Jim” in grad school: Roscoe would pee anywhere but the kitty box rather than walk through a room Jim was in, apparently aware we were a mismatch well before I was. “Michael” thought it amusing to tease Eliza by startling her; she hissed, ran down the hall, and never forgave him. And the man I dated not long before I met Steve was highly allergic, the equivalent of a neon sign flashing “Not this one!”
My cats adore Steve.
“Adore” might not be a strong enough word. Eliza mews approvingly when he scratches her ears. Lola claims his lap almost before he even gets settled on the couch, and Charlie, his biggest fan, always runs to greet him. She frequently settles on his chest at full purr in the wee hours, angling for an early morning petting session. She reaches out a sweet white paw and taps…taps…until he not-so-grudgingly obliges.
And people say animals are incapable of reasoning.
CatCon LA got me to thinking about cats and weddings. One doesn’t have to look far to find cute pictures of pooches serving as ring bearers, dogs dressed in bow-ties for their owners’ weddings. But almost no one talks about including cats in the ceremony. Maybe for obvious reasons. I went to a “Cat Party” a few years ago where the felines themselves (along with their people) were encouraged to attend. The evening was the brainchild of a creative event director who’d recently adopted his first kitty. I loved the concept; nobody ever plans parades, or public blessings, or pet costume contests for cats. I packed my Charlie into a soft-sided carrier and walked with her to the downtown library. There were other visiting cats in carriers and carts, as well as kittens for adoption in a big wire cage. A band played (general folk music, no caterwauling), and a photographer who specialized in animals snapped free portraits. Snacks were offered for owners and kitties alike. The event director—whose own cat was huddled under a blanket in the back of his carrier— seemed surprised that the cats in attendance weren’t socializing like dogs might in a similar situation.
I wasn’t. Cats aren’t into crowds. Even laid-back Charlie spent a good piece of the evening alternating between digging death-grip claws into my neck and attempting to launch off my shoulder to scale the nearest bookcase. When an admirer exclaimed over her beauty and proclaimed her a Norwegian Forest cat, she meowed plaintively: damn paparazzi.
Cats aren’t into the big social scene (to my introvert’s mind, one of their more admirable attributes). Still, I like to picture Eliza Jane, one paw on the ring pillow. purring in a pretty turquoise bow, or elegant Lola, all black velvet and green eyes, draped across the book table, tail a-swish. I can also imagine more uncertain wedding adventures: four paws balancing on the rooftop walls five stories above the street, kitty whiskers decorated in cupcake frosting. Charlie, no doubt, would plaster herself to the glass roof of the butterfly garden, mesmerized by the fluttering wings below, and chatter away as we spoke our vows.
The cats will be happier away from the day-of fray, I know. But I’m glad they’ll be there to welcome us home afterwards, even if the real source of their joy is the permanent doubling of available hands and laps.
And I’m really glad that I finally listened to my cats.