Is your family made up of cat people or dog people or anti-pet people? What about your friends? Obviously, you’re a cat person. Are your friends? Do you find yourself navigating toward other cat people? How often have you met someone that you resonate with and later find out—yup, they have a cat or two in their home.
I come from a family of only some cat people. My favorite grandmother always had a cat—usually a Siamese. She also had a couple of cute little dogs over the years—you know, the cat-like type small, fluffy ones. And she gave me some of my favorite cats—one was a Siamese type kitten born at a local nursery.
A step-grandmother rescued cats and probably confiscated neighbor’s cats she found roaming free. People dumped cats on her doorstep because they knew she’d take them in. She was ridiculed and called “That crazy cat lady.” She always had cats in the house, but also in a large cage in the yard. None of her cats ran free, and she had them all spayed and neutered. She was a cat woman before her time in many ways.
Mama wasn’t much for animals when I was growing up. We had a cat or two and a dog or two over the years. When I was grown and on my own, Mama used to snicker at me for the way I coddled my cats and when I sometimes had what she felt were too many cats. She and Daddy never chose to have another pet once my sister, brother, and I moved out—until… Yes, until a sweet calico showed up in their backyard one day.
The cat seemed not to belong anywhere, but my folks didn’t want a cat, even though they were retired by then and had plenty of time for one. Mama told Daddy, “Don’t feed it.” And he told her the same. However, come to find out both of them were feeding the cat without the other knowing. Of course the calico stayed and became known as Spooky.
When Spooky passed away, a Maine coon type male showed up and they began “NOT” feeding him. After a reasonable attempt to find where he belonged, Smokey became theirs and they adored that cat. He was a wonderful pet for about ten years when he became very ill and they had to let him go.
“No more cats,” Daddy said. Mama said the same, but my brother had different ideas. He’d seen how much Smokey meant to the folks. My brother’s cat had kittens in Idaho and one day a niece and her family visited them from California and came back with a kitten for Mama. Daddy had passed by then. Mama fell in love, and she named the little guy Shady. Only the name didn’t stick. She kept calling him Smokey. So he became Smokey 2 and he became an absolutely wonderful pet for her—loyal, loving, funny, entertaining…
Ladies and Gentlemen, this Smokey is one of the cats that inspired the Klepto Cat Mysteries. I incorporated Smokey’s personality and appearance into this cat character along with my cat, Lily’s thieving habits to develop Rags, the klepto cat.
When Mama passed in 2019, Smokey was 9 years old. He continues living the good life with my niece surrounded by some of the furniture he grew up with in Mama’s house, furniture that seems to remind him of his kittenhood and growing-up years with my mom. One is a dining room table that has been in the family for generations. The minute that table arrived in his new home he rubbed on it for a while, then jumped on top of it for a nap. As I understand it, he takes all of his naps on that table, enjoying a connection to his earliest memories, perhaps?
As for me, I’ve never gone longer than a few weeks without a cat to love and usually there are at least two in my home at any given time. So did I pass on the cat-loving gene? My daughters have all had cats, but prefer dogs (one has several horses). My grown grandchildren all have dogs (one also has horses) except for one. He and his wife adore cats and have two beloved indoor cats. Some of my great grandchildren are showing partiality toward cats and I’m fostering that budding love.