Mario and I chose cats over kids. I know full well that furry family members are not the same as kids but when you don’t have kids, you absolutely care about them in the same kind of ways.
Without human children in your life, you really focus on the fact that your pets may only get what amounts to a short amount of time with you. Imagine if you knew for certain that your child would only live to be like, 15 or so. You’d do everything you possibly could to make sure their lives were as enriching and fulfilling and magical as possible. You’d make sure they knew they were loved. You would dote on them and spoil them and basically do everything in your power to ensure that they were living their very best lives. So throughout my life, that’s how I’ve treated my cats.
The first cat was a gray and white number that my mom brought home as an 8 week old kitten for me. My mom always just called her Kitty, but I named her Wizard (The Whiz, for short). I was 7 years old at the time and that cat and I grew up together. She had a personality that matched with mine–introverted but playful with a temper that you didn’t want to test. I was an only child, so we spent a lot of time together. When I left for college, I had to leave her with my parents, which definitely broke my heart a little. By that time, she was showing her age a bit and had a touch of arthritis. I didn’t want to put her through a move and the fact that she would have spent long hours alone in my apartment. She lived to be 21 and I showered her with love and attention every time I’d make the 2 hour drive from L.A. to see my parents. That cat will always have a special place in my heart.
When I met Mario in college, I had a cat named Special K (short for Special Kitty) whom I adopted from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles. I distinctly remember a guy at the shelter telling me, “Oh you don’t want that one, it’s a mean one” as I looked at this poor, scared little lump of black and white fur shaking at the back of a cage. I had no idea what she’d been through to arrive at that shelter at that point in time, but I knew she was coming home with me. For the first 2 weeks, she barely came out from under my bed, but eventually, she felt safe. She only got 7 short years. It still brings me to tears thinking about how her kidneys failed on her and I had to make what was at that point in time, the most difficult decision of my life, to ease her passing from this world to the next. It was Valentine’s day no less. Mario ended up coming over and we just kind of sat there being sad the whole evening.
About 3 months later, I decided I wanted to give another cat a chance. This time, a local vet was hosting kitten adoptions, so I showed up bright and early on a Saturday. There was only one other guy there and they had the kittens all on this table. When I walked up to the table, one tiny, but very determined kitten confidently trotted right up to me. I was chosen. I named her Isis–the Greek name for the ancient Egyptian goddess. She absolutely lived up to her name. She was, what I would soon find out, a “torbie”, which is what they call a coat coloring combination of “tortoiseshell” and a regular striped tabby. I also soon found out about something called “torbietude”. Don’t ask me why, but cats of that color seem to have a little reputation for being strong willed with the attitude to match. Isis was with us pretty much the whole time we were together. She was with us just short of 20 years and left to a higher plane of existence of her own free will because that is how she rolled. She did not need any “help” in the matter. I loved all my cats prior to Isis, but Isis was a special cat. She was there through some very rough and dark times in my life. When she passed in 2017, Mario and I were pretty devastated. The house was so quiet. Too quiet. Once again, 3 months passed and it seemed like the right time to hopefully give another cat their best life.
This time around, there were two. We went up to the local animal shelter where we walked away with two beautiful cats. Their shelter names were Robyn and C.C. Neither of those fit. The names that popped into my head were Hathor and Juno (cats seem to really resonate with god and goddess names!). I found out that at the time Hathor arrived at the shelter she was knocked up. Funny enough, Hathor is another Greek name for an Egyptian goddess who’s often associated with motherhood and joy … but has a vengeful side as well. Basically, I picked the perfect name for her! Hathor is a Maine Coon mix with a bold personality who can always make me laugh. She’s a bit of a prima donna, loves attention but does not really love other cats (Juno being an exception).
Juno, on the other hand, is my little cat of mystery. Not a lot was known about her. She’s got two different colored eyes and does not allow you to pick her up. Still waters run deep with her. At the same time, she’s also got this confident “chill” vibe–as if she’s wise beyond measure. She’s surprised me over the years and she can absolutely hold her own against Hathor’s giant personality and rough horsing around. Much like her goddess namesake, she’s a protector with big mom energy around other cats but she’s also got a murder button and can be ready for war, if the case demands… like a visit with the vet.
During Mario’s last days, these two cats kind of had their own private vigil with him, never being too far away. It might have been their way of saying thank you to him for being the one that would always get up at 6 in the morning and feed them. Hathor spent hours with him laying by his legs on the couch. After he passed, Juno spent weeks just hanging out in the room we called “The Music Room”, where our collective music collection is and where Mario wrote all of his electronic music. All 3 of us mourned the loss in our own ways.
Back in August of this year, I don’t really know what came over me, but I was up at the shelter and met a little Siamese cat they called, Sweet Pea. There was just something about her and I knew that she’d be able to hold her own against Hathor. It took me a couple days to come up with a more proper name (IMO “Sweet Pea” is more of a nickname or term of endearment than a proper name) but one finally came to me… Kala Acana, or Kala for short. And yes, it’s another goddess name. Kala Acana is the Thai goddess of mystery, which I felt was appropriate as Siamese are one of the older breads of cats, hailing from Siam, the historic name for Thailand.
Kala is a serious character, living up to every unique personality trait of the breed. She plays fetch like a dog, will have full conversations with you in trills and meows, is highly affectionate and there is just an air of whimsy and mystique about her. She’s 9.5 lbs of pure, sleek muscle, but you wouldn’t know it looking at those dainty, slender paws. She can definitely hold her own. In fact, I’ve noticed that her approach to just about anything that may be a threat is to stand her ground and give whatever it is a good swat (she’s really got it in for my Dyson stick vacuum). I call her my little temple guardian, as that was a role Siamese cats had in their native land. At the same time, she is such a lovable, good natured cat who just loves to play. I know Mario would have really loved her.
These 3 cats, like all of their predecessors, get the best of the best. My folks joke that any cat that ends up with me “wins the lottery”.
All in all, I feel like I’ve really lucked out in the cat department and time spent with cats truly is never wasted.