I believe that you have to have pets of your own to fully understand how we “animal people” feel about them. I also believe that even referring to “companion animals” as “pets” is somewhat demeaning. Two of the first pets in my adult life were my cats, Bonnie and her kitten, Jenny. They were special and I’d like to tell you a few of the things that I saw Bonnie do that demonstrates how special she was. One incident was an act of compassion and the other a demonstration of love. You be the judge as to whether or not I’m attributing human qualities to my cat, Bonnie, or that she really was as special as I contend.
I first met Bonnie when she was a one-year-old homeless street cat. I put out food and water every day and evening in my backyard for the homeless cats in the neighborhood. Bonnie was a regular visitor, except that, unlike homeless feral cats that had never been socialized with people, she was very friendly. Suddenly one day she simply stopped coming around. Months later, Bonnie, who had no name at the time, came onto my porch for some food and water and I decided to let her into my home because it was freezing cold outside.
She walked just a short distance into my parlor, looked around and returned outside to the bitter cold. However, within 5 minutes Bonnie returned to my porch accompanied by a black and white bloated, very sick cat. Both cats ate some of the dry cat food and drank some of the water that I had on my porch, and then both came to my front door and sat on the door mat.
When I saw Bonnie with her sick friend, I immediately opened the door and Bonnie’s friend entered my home but Bonnie walked away. I quickly put out some canned cat food as well as a cat bed, litter box and a bowl of water. The sick cat ate and drank like it was starved and terribly thirsty. Meanwhile, I didn’t see Bonnie around again for a few months.when I did see Bonnie again she seemed very fat. She came around every day and got fatter and fatter. It finally dawned on me that Bonnie, whom I thought was a male, was pregnant. From that moment on I couldn’t sleep peacefully at night. All I could think about was Bonnie’s kittens being born in the freezing cold and dying from the cold within minutes of birth.
So, one evening, when Bonnie came by for some food and water, I tried to entice her into my home. When I failed to get Bonnie to come in, I grabbed the cat carrier and a can of cat food and ran out and followed her across the street to a parking lot. She was so happy to see me pay attention to her… her tail wagged from side to side just like a dog’s. I put an opened can of cat food into the carrier and thereby was able to lure her into it and took her to my home and let her loose inside. The next day the “Cat Care Society” took in Bonnie and found her a foster home where she gave birth to six kittens.
Eight weeks later the Cat Care Society brought Bonnie and her kittens back to the shelter from the foster home and gave me the “pick of the litter” of the kittens. I picked an angel-faced little gray and white ball of fur who my wife named Jenny. However, the Cat Care Society was very concerned about Bonnie. When they separated her from her kittens, she grieved and cried and would not eat but I couldn’t take her home yet because she had to be neutered and then needed a few days to recuperate. “Cat care” thought Bonnie might die. Meanwhile, I brought home Jenny immediately.
When I finally brought home the emaciated and grief-stricken Bonnie, she stealthily approached Jenny, sniffed her, and then began licking her. She was the happiest cat you ever saw! Meanwhile, for weeks after being reunited with Jenny, whom she discovered on the floor by my sofa, it broke my heart to see Bonnie call and meow all around the sofa, thinking that her other five kittens were also there.
Bonnie and Jenny both became indoor cats and although Jenny grew up, Bonnie still preened her and played cat games with her like “Stalk,” “Ambush,” “Wrestle,” “Chase,” and “Cat-in-the-Box.” Bonnie was just one of millions of homeless cats on the streets who suffer from starvation, dehydration, being run over, freezing, being attacked by dogs and other cats, and being mangled by auto fans and belts when they snuggle up to a warm auto engine in the bitter cold. Fortunately I was able to save Bonnie, and by so doing, also saved her kittens, including Jenny. Bonnie and Jenny’s love for each other and for my wife and I, and the compassion that Bonnie showed for a sick cat friend by bringing her to my home for food and help was very touching and made me love her even more.
Do you see why we “Animal People” feel the way we do about our “Companion Animals”?