The Cat Who Chose Us
I had always been a dog person. My whole family, in fact. Growing up, our black Labrador, Angel, had been a constant presence in my life and the best friend you could have. She was always up for being my pillow when I wanted to read a book out in the front yard, and we’d spend our nights laughing as she howled a song or barked at my dad as they pretended to fight. When she passed away, it was heartbreaking. It was strange to have to live without her.
When a few years had passed, we felt it was time for another pet. Especially after my parents divorced and my mom moved out, my sister and I felt that we needed something to liven things up, to fill the void that Angel had left and now seemed even larger. We started doing some research, trying to figure out what breed of dog we wanted and where we could get it. My dad was also on board, so the plan was in motion.
I never expected anything to interrupt that plan. We were dog people, and we were going to get a dog.
My sophomore year was coming to an end and I was just about the moodiest sixteen-year-old girl you’d ever meet. If I wasn’t on the computer writing elaborate fantasy novels, I was locked up in my room blasting music. In fact, my favorite band’s new CD had come out just a week before so I couldn’t really be bothered with anything else. You can imagine how annoyed I was when I heard an obnoxious banging.
Since my dad didn’t feel like actually coming upstairs when he needed me, his usual method of getting my attention was to stand at the bottom of the stairs and bang on the wall. I flung open the door, letting the music continue to blare, while I glared down at my father wondering what the hell could possibly be important.
“What?!” I asked.
“Come see this!” was all he said, disappearing from the bottom of the stairs as he went back into the kitchen.
I rolled my eyes, shut off the music, and went downstairs to see what all the fuss was about. Our kitchen had a glass sliding door that led out to the deck on the side of the house. Since it was mid-June, the glass door was open, letting the fresh air come in through the screen door. And sitting on the other side of the door, meowing his head off, was a cat.
|This was after we fed him but before he officially moved in|
I’d never liked cats, but my first thought was that this one was pretty. It was black and white, with perfectly symmetrical markings on its face and a pink nose. It was small and skinny—not a kitten but not quite full grown, either. And it was meowing at us like it lived here and wanted in.
In my mind, cats had always been horrible creatures. Sure, they look cute, but get too close and they’re bound to scratch or bite you. I just never understood people who liked cats. I was too afraid to actually go outside and try to interact with this cat, so I just watched him for a while before losing interest and running back up to my room to blast my music again. My dad and I both figured the cat would go back to where it came from. We didn’t know what to do about it, so we did nothing.
The cat came back the next night. Where it went during the day, I had no idea, but our deck seemed to be its nighttime hangout spot. My sister was home so I showed her our strange new neighbor. We decided to be adventurous and went outside to meet this furry little creature, although we were both a little afraid to actually touch it. We didn’t want any wounds.
It seemed harmless enough. The cat was friendly enough to let us pet it a few times, and we sat on the deck watching it chase moths. When it caught one between its paws, it would chomp down on the moth like it was a tasty snack. We laughed as the cat entertained us. I even dug into my hardly used art kit for some string so I could pull it around and watch the cat pounce on it. But eventually it got late, and once again we retreated inside, leaving the cat to do whatever it was it did when we left it.
|One of his favorite spots--he used to be so little!|
The next day I figured out where the cat was living. It crawled out from under the grill like it had been living there its whole life. Now that I was finally seeing the cat in the daylight, it was very obvious that it was a boy. I had no idea how long he had been living under our grill. I just went outside to play with him again.
More days passed and this cat was not leaving. We didn’t know what compelled him to stay. The warm glow of the kitchen, the shelter of the grill, the endless supply of moths to eat. Even though he had a flea collar around his neck, it didn’t seem like he had a home. Either he was lost, or as my dad suggested, his family probably dumped him on the side of the road and he just came to the closest house he could find.
My sister and I eventually came to realize the cat was catching moths because he had nothing else to eat. We felt terrible for this cute little guy. My dad warned us, “If you feed him, he’ll never leave.” Well, he wasn’t leaving anyway, and he was hungry. We didn’t have any cat food, but we had tuna. We opened up a can and set it out for the cat, along with a dish of water. He dove right in, eager to be eating something that didn’t have wings.
Doing something so simple was bigger than we even realized. By feeding this cat, we were claiming him. My family—the dog people, feeding a stray cat. Eventually letting that cat inside and naming him Gizmo. Letting him back outside so he could hunt mice and leave their organs as presents on our doorstep. And ultimately, letting him into our hearts.
Our search for a dog ended when we let Gizmo in. We didn’t get to choose our pet because he chose us. To this day I have no idea where he came from, but I’m so glad he showed up when he did. I have a very different attitude toward cats now, and I couldn’t imagine life without my little man. Even though he’ll occasionally take a swipe at me, he’s always good for a snuggle. It’s been ten years, two moves, and several pounds (for both of us) later, but he’s just as cute, quirky, and lovable as the first time he meowed outside my door.
|About two weeks after we got Gizmo--we were already snuggle buddies|
|Ten years later--now we take selfies :)|