By Di Chapman
Don’t laugh, but I’m a dyed-in-the-wool furry critter lover. So, when I say I love four-legged critters and am a pushover pet parent, I’m tummy-rubbing serious. I’m crazy about both cats and dogs. I have no human children, but I’ve had plenty of “kids,” taking care of them from babyhood to end of life. I fall in love again and again with kitties and doggies. I know some of you will shake your heads, so go ahead and talk about how nuts I am, but most of you will acknowledge that I’m preaching to the “love me, love my pets” choir.
The devoted pet lovers whom I know are kindred spirits. We know our kitties have different facial expressions (sometimes men argue that only women can see them) and ears that revolve backwards when they pretend they’re ignoring us but are nosey and don’t want to miss a word we’re saying. There’s even an appropriate expression for this behavior that every cat lover knows: “You’re nobody until you’ve been ignored by a cat.” They express a wide vocal range of purrs, meows of many different tunes, and chirps. My husband and I have named a particularly amusing vocal expression the “yawn meow.” Yes, our cat yawns and meows at the same time. And you know what else?
Cats are as loyal and affectionate as dogs and as quirky and individual as people. Some are adept socializers. Take our neighbor’s cat, Felix. Felix is a social bee. He visits us and the neighbors daily, hanging out on top of covered barbeques, lounging on verandas, and making the rounds to rub and curl his tail up against our legs and accept petting. I asked my husband one afternoon if I could bring Felix inside. “No, Sweetie,” he answered. “That’s what his parents are for.”
Oh, and lest I forget, cats definitely read minds. Ask any cat lover.
I’m nuts about dogs too, and although I could hold the title of “Cat Lady,” I’d be thrilled with a menagerie of happy, smiling canines. Don’t you love a dog’s smile? They rival those of humans, perhaps even more engaging. When you take a holiday family photo with Fido or Fifi, who steals the show? Their tails can wag so fast they’re a blur and can take their whole darn hindquarters for the ride.
If you’re not an animal lover by now, folks, you’re in the minority in this country, and in my travels throughout the western world, you’d be in the minority there, too.
There are 85 million pets in 68% of U.S. households, and I’ve certainly contributed to that statistic all of my life. In fact, at least 80% of the households I knew had pets when I was a kid. We knew them by name, and they wandered in and out of our open doors. (Remember the days of open doors?) My dad was so in love with animals he would bring home cat and dog strays, patch them up if necessary, and adopt them. As a traveling salesman, he would regularly visit the pounds (Remember them?) in his territory. He was a dedicated rescuer, and we loved it. I swear, if our pets had opposable thumbs and could talk, they would have joined us at the dinner table.
“Sacré bleu!” you say. Heck, George Washington had a bunch of dogs wandering throughout his home. They gave Martha surprises like snatching roasted turkeys from her kitchen counters at state dinners, which at the time were held there. Thomas Jefferson constantly brought dogs home on ships from Europe, often surprised by litters born en voyage. Mark Twain adored kitties. He had eleven. Ernest Hemingway had 30. (!!!) To each his own, folks.
I love pet stores overflowing with seasonal pet attire and treats that look like human desserts and snacks. Those look pretty darn tasty. In 2018, we critter lovers spent $72.56 BILLION on these guys. I’ve had holiday conversations with shoppers whose carts were overflowing with toys, treats, and mastodon dog bones. “I have four dogs and don’t want anyone to feel left out on Christmas day,” one told me. In my family, gifts for pets are always under the tree. Dear heavens – we’ve lost our minds.
This brings me to a place I’ve found in Marietta that makes my heart sing: Good Mews. It’s a cage-free, no-kill beautifully bright cat adoption shelter that has placed over 9,000 kitties. At any given time, up to 100 “residents” call it home and each is given a name. These little residents were taken in as homeless, abused, and/or abandoned kitties, or from sad separations. They’re given freedom to roam in large, bright rooms with ample comfort for frequent napping, sunbathing, and being naturally nosey. Humans grant their every wish.
Good Mews is like being in a candy store, only instead of merchandise, there’s sweet, sashaying, curious, and personality-plus felines everywhere. The windows are floor-to-ceiling, and they can birdie-watch overlooking their own private yard and little bird sanctuary. There are toys and cat trees; plenty of self-grooming going on, and kitties lounging all around. There’s mischief and cuteness everywhere.
The kitties are happy to see humans in their home for adoption events – “Reading to Cats” for kids, “Yoga with Cats” which has been a media sensation, “Sound Journey” for those who want to share an evening of vibrational bliss and relaxation with the cats, and more attractions to come like programs for senior days. The “Kitten Shower” is happening now. Resistance is killing me, but my own little senior fur baby, Miss Kitty, needs my constant affection and attention.
This place has my number, y’all. It’s truly a cat-lover’s “must-have” experience. Go!
My father’s sister once said to me, “Sometimes I think I like animals better than people.”
Call me a crazy critter lady, but amen.
Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it! Contact Di at firstname.lastname@example.org