Cat Memories

For years my sister had desperately wanted a cat. My parents were reluctant to get a cat, probably because, understandably, they didn’t think Indy would be pleased with a new creature in her territory (laugh). But the summer after fourth grade was the first summer my sister had her driver’s license, so since both of our parents worked all day, we spent our summer days sneaking off to the humane society to look at kittens.

     At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted a cat because I had been bitten and scratched by other cats. But after only a couple trips to the humane society, that were filled with the sounds of sad, lonely kittens mewing and throwing themselves against the door of the cage, desperate for love and attention, my sister had me hooked. With me on her side, it didn’t take us long to lobby Mom and Dad. Our main arguments were the usual promise that every kid makes, that they will do all of the work. Of course, we didn’t live up to our end of the bargain, but my parents came to love the cat so much that they didn’t mind. We also made the valid argument that while Indy was a wonderful pet, she was too big to sit in our lap, and a lap pet would be a wonderful addition to our family.
     On a Saturday in August, my mom agreed to come to the humane society with us, and we showed her the cats we thought had the best temperament. The next day, we brought home a black kitten whom we decided to name Snickers.
     Snickers is definitely not your typical cat. Most other cats I have interacted with hide somewhere and sleep all day, only showing up at meal times. Snickers is eight years old now, and she acts more like a dog than a cat. Whenever someone comes over, she greets them at the door, and she craves attention, always wanting to be where the action is. If someone is sitting on the couch, she will jump in to their lap and purr so loud you can hear her all the way across the room!
     Just like Indy, Snickers also has a mind of her own. If you try to pick her up and she doesn’t want to be held at that moment, she makes this wish very clear with a good bite. After eight years though, I can recognize by the way she moves her head that she is not pleased, and is about to bite, and have developed excellent reflexes! Also, I swear Snickers knows I am blind, and when she was a kitten, she used this to her advantage. Every morning, she would crouch and wait silently either in the middle of the hallway, or at the bottom of the stairs, and just as I would approach her, she would pounce and nip my ankles, scaring the daylights out of me every time!      Also, still to this day, despite our efforts to discipline her with a firm voice and a squirt gun, she insists on jumping on to the table or counter. No sooner do we shoo her off the table than she persists and jumps right back on. Almost every day, she persists with this until we either feed her, or have to lock her in another room.
     And as for how Indy and Snickers got along, it turned out that we had no reason to worry about Indy hurting Snickers. It still amazes me how much nerve Snickers had in her interactions with Indy, and how patient Indy was! If Indy was sitting in a spot Snickers wanted, she would just walk up to Indy and bite her! When we first got Snickers, she only weighed about five pounds, and Indy could have easily gotten rid of the pest with one quick snap. But instead, Indy would just give in, and move, letting Snickers have her spot! Growing up with a dog who was so forgiving and patient with a pesky creature that was smaller than her head has definitely given me a deeper respect for dogs and their level of compassion. When I took my guide dog to my grandma’s house, and my 15-month-old cousin came to visit, it came as no surprise to me when my guide dog followed him around, and laid down next to the baby when he was ready for a nap.
     Snickers also gave me valuable experience in the power that a gentle voice can have in bonding with animals. Being that Indy was such a big strong dog, she would only respond to you when you addressed her in a loud firm voice. But since Snickers was tiny buy comparison, and was frightened by loud voices, she responded best to a cheerful baby voice. With my guide dog, I try to combine both of these concepts, using the firm voice when he is naughty, but a sweet voice whenever possible. The fact that Snickers purrs with contentment, and my guide dog wags his tail furiously at the sound of a gentle, loving voice is more than enough evidence to prove that animals definitely have emotions, and want to know that they are loved. While practice and discipline are very important, Snickers has helped me to appreciate that expressing love to an animal is just as important for forging a lifelong bond, and thus a cohesive guide dog team.


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