After caring for some hardy goldfish in medical school and deciding that I needed something more in my life, I adopted my first cat Mina who was unintentionally (I think) a sort of cat version of myself: brown and black, wide eyes, petite, a bit shy with some mischief bubbling under the surface. It was instantly clear that I was a cat person. I understood her need for both love and space, I could read the curve of her tail and the carriage of her body. I was told that some days when I left for work during residency- those were long days- she would yowl for a time before settling. When I returned home after a 30 hour shift she would come under the covers and sleep with me. And mysteriously, when my girls were about a year old she began obsessively licking the fur off her belly. We assumed it coincided with their increasing mobility which terrified her, but we didn’t see that it actually started around the time of my own illness. The vet prescribed Prozac which she spit out no matter how we tried to hide it. It only became clear why she was so anxious once I felt a little better; she did too and the fur grew back. Mina and I, we had a relationship.
After Mina was gone- a loss I felt more deeply than I could have imagined- we acquired two more cats, Annie, a toothless, neurotic old lady from a hoarding home who sucked us in with her big green eyes and her clearance price of $39, and Cookie, who was a kitten and is now something like a perpetually surprised, lovable panther. She can sense an upset person from across the house and has become a great arbitrator of disputes, somehow knowing who is right and making sure that she is on duty, purring at the affronted person’s side.
But with all of these cats it became increasingly clear what Andy and the girls were missing: a dog. The reason was mainly me. Continue Reading