I sincerely hope that parenthood is as satisfying as pet ownership.
Everyone I know makes fun of me for loving Carlos so much. I understand. Cats are weird. Black cats are weirder. People who own cats are obviously incapable of any sort of normal social interaction. We spend all day locked in our houses, knitting or just rocking back in forth in creaking rocking chairs tapping our nails, occasionally reaching for the remote because the Price is Right has ended but Judge Judy has not yet begun and we need to watch some Cops to fill the time.
Okay, so it’s not quite like that.
After Africa, Carlos didn’t speak to me for the better part of a month. I am still not sure if he didn’t remember me or if he was that mad at me. Even now, whenever I pack a bag or something, he wants to get in and inspect it. He’ll crawl right into my backpack or jump into a suitcase, determined not to be left behind.
So after being gone for six days, I was worried I’d be hearing some complaints from him, or at the very least, the silent treatment. (Mike sent me a picture of him and the cat snuggling. I was worried that the cat had switched sides – Carlos usually avoids Mike, even though Mike wants to be friends with him. This is tentative proof of Carlos’ food-for-love program in which he switches allegiances strategically depending on who’s in charge of feeding him.)
I got home. I was checking email and Carlos came over to sit on me, so I moved the laptop off my stomach and let him knead himself into a ball. His soft cat sigh as he fell asleep on me was all the assurance I needed. Last night, I could tell he was feeling particularly possessive: I woke up several times during the night to find him curled on my stomach, on my back, across my feet.
There’s something oddly wonderful about this sort of love. Of course he’s stressful. Cat AIDS is a running joke now, but I’m sure that when he gets sick at some point, I’ll be a giant ball of stress and worry. Of course people think I’m an idiot for owning a cat. (I will argue that this cat has all the perks of a dog – minus the walking and fetching bit – without the 8 hour time limit. I can leave Carlos alone for a day or so and he’ll manage by himself just fine. I don’t have to worry about being home to feed and walk him at 6pm sharp. I don’t have to worry that he’ll make a mess in my living room if I’m not home to let him out. I consider that winning.) But it feels good knowing I have something that really loves me waiting for me when I get home.