Growing up, I lived in a very pet friendly house, especially for dogs (at one point, my house boasted 5 pups). From dogs to guinea pigs, hamsters to goldfish galore, and even a brother, I was never wanting in the pet department.
Alas, there was one animal I always wanted that was never to be: a sweet, little kitty cat, but everyone in my stupid family was allergic.
I made one attempt at cat ownership in high school. One summer, on an organized excursion in Maine, I stumbled upon free kittens. I tried soooo hard to 1) smuggle one in my shirt and through the New England states back to PA and 2) convince my mother that the cat could live a great life in my bedroom, thus, no one would have an allergic reaction. There was a “no” and lies about how crossing state borders with cats was illegal.
Most people may think I’m crazy to have desired a cat so very, very much. They think cats are feisty, moody, high-strung creatures, and while some are, others are quite delightful and chock full of personality.
Pancake, yes Pancake, my cat, yes MY cat, is small, mighty, and full of personality—and hairballs.
The story of Pancake is both magical and not magical (it’s not magical).
Once upon a time I started dating my current boyfriend, and truth be told, what won me over was his cat, Pancake. It was our 3rd date—a date I forced myself go on to give him “one more chance” and to prove to me he was worth either a 4th date or to put the kabash on the whole situation.
When I entered his apartment, there was Pancake meowing and purring sprawled out on the floor ready to have her belly rubbed. So wacky and sweet, she couldn’t get enough tummy cuddles from me, a complete stranger. It was love at first sight. In the following weeks I visited my boyfriend and spent considerable time having Pancake chase a laser pointer and sneaking her cat treats she would later vomit (and that the boyfriend cleaned up). She tried so hard to crawl into the toilet and refused to drink from anything but the faucet or my glass of Miller Lite.
It came to pass that I was going to catsit Pancake while my boyfriend hiked Mount Rainier for two weeks. The boy and I packed up her favorite loveys and her litter box and settled her in my 800-square foot apartment for an adventure in the nation’s capital.
On Pancake’s first day at my place, I left for the gym only to come back to her meowing like crazy, stuck on top of my kitchen cabinets, an ordeal she endured for several hours. She didn’t climb up there again.
Throughout her stay at Chez Gingermermaid, she was super cuddly and a respectful houseguest, always snuggling next to my legs at night to sleep, demanding belly rubs every time I walked in the front door, and managing to get in the toilet only once.
I pondered 1) smuggling Pancake across the Maryland/DC line, but my mother’s lies still haunted me. 2) I began convincing the boyfriend he was a terrible caretaker and that Pancake was far happier with me than with him. 3) I looked at him with a quiver in my lip and a single tear in my eye, and only asked sweetly.
He replied to my requests, “but then I’ll miss her and she’s my cat.” I pretended to understand, but really, I thought he was being unfair and selfish. He may have rescued her from the shelter two years ago, but it was time she really understood what a loving home was about.
I won’t go into all the details, but there were two bigger cats living at my boyfriend’s, Pancake started getting fat and was puking all the time (bulimic in order to cope with the stress from being away from me?), and the boyfriend was heading on an extended work trip. When I offered to catsit again, it turned into, “why don’t I just keep her?” He thought and thought and I batted my eyes and batted my eyes, and in the end, I won. All the while making him think it was his idea.
Pancake is mine now.
What this story shows is that through manipulation, persistence and the responsible use of sad girlfriend eyes, living on my own, I beat my odds, obtained a cuddly pet, and made the impossible dream come true of having my own kitty cat.