A personal initiative to live more appreciatively

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#20: 12.13.09

Two years ago today Kegan and I adopted our cats, Kennedy and Noel. They are our first pets as a couple, and my first pets ever. I'm thankful that two years ago they came into our lives; I never truly understood before then how animals can change ones life.

In a sense, we adopted them on a whim. In the build-up to the Christmas of 2009 we watched a Hallmark movie, A Dog Named Christmas, about a young man with developmental disabilities who fosters a dog over the holidays, and ultimately convinces his father they should adopt him. When it ended the family whom the movie was based on spoke about the benefits and need to adopt or at least foster animals from local shelters. Kegan and I locked eyes, and it was one of those powerful moments a couple shares, when you can tell you are both thinking the same thing. At that moment we both wanted to adopt a dog, and we both knew it was not feasible. Neither of us work the kind of hours that would be fair to a new dog. "Maybe in the summer," we posited, but we both knew that this was not the stage of life in which a dog would fit.

Then the next day, fate intervened. Shopping at the mall for Christmas we came across a local shelter in the center court, raising awareness and collecting donations, with a number of their cats on show. Families hemmed and hawed over them-- especially the two rare fall kittens that were still unclaimed. Kegan and I locked eyes, and it was one of those powerful moments a couple shares, when you can tell you are both thinking the opposite thing. "Yes! Let's get a cat!" was my immediate instinct. "No! Let's not get a cat!" was Kegan's. He was a "dog person". He had legitimate allergic reactions to cats. It was just a movie.

But all it took was getting Kegan into the shelter. We went a few days later "just to look", and in doing so, Kegan relented. Despite the fact that it was a no-kill shelter, and the cats can live there, healthy and well-cared for, for their entire lives-- Kegan hated the idea that animals were just spending their days in crates. He's also my best friend and amazingly selfless. Over the course of those days between the mall and going to the shelter, Kegan learned of my childhood obsession with cats. I adorned the walls of my bedroom with cat posters, had many cat stuffed animals, and asked for a kitten every Christmas. Sometimes I wonder if Kegan just wanted to make that childhood Christmas wish come true, because after that shelter visit, we adopted the two kittens. And so, two years ago today, Kennedy and Noel came into our lives.

After being a cat owner for two years I think I understand where the stereotype of cats come from. They do not have the outgoing nature of dogs and are so unknown to most beyond their owners. In fact, Kennedy hides when most people come over, so most of my family and friends rarely see her, just getting a glimpse of her as she scampers off to my bedroom to get under the bed. But after two years I can say that I know them. They both are my shadow; when I am home, they want to be in whatever room I am in. Kennedy even knows what it means when I say that it's time for bed. Wherever she is, whatever she is doing, she stops in the midst of it to go lay at the foot of the bed. She's my baby cat. I often have to call to her when she can't find me, as she sits and cries when she doesn't know where I am in the house. She's timid, shy and sweet. Noel, on the other hand, is anything but shy. She's full of energy, loves to play, and likes to wake us up in the middle of the night wanting to do so. The definition of a lap cat, Kegan and I can't sit down on the couch without her on top of us (she's actually right next to me as I type this). I can't wait to have kids and watch them play with her, because she's going to totally be the cat that gets dressed up and chased around the house, and I think she's going to love every minute of having all that attention.

Before having these cats, I had no idea what a difference a pet could make in your life. When I have a bad day it feels good to come home to them, flopping over on their backs to be pet, rubbing my leg to say hello. It feels good to know that we were able to provide them with a home when they were in need, and in doing so freed up space for additional animals to be cared for in the shelter. It's nice to share a bond with them, to know that they trust and love us right back.

Two years ago today was a good day, one I'm consistently thankful for.

And if you're wondering, reader, Kegan loves them just as much as I do. Allergic fits and all.



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