We got a cat.
There are so many things that still have me scratching my head at this sentence, I still don’t know where to begin. Actually, it’s a quote more than a lead sentence for this week’s column. A quote taken directly from my four-year-old, who happens to be over the moon with the newest addition to the Hammond family (commonly known as T&Co.) Yes, the ‘Co.’ seems to be growing and well… as for ‘T’ she is doing all she can to keep up.
As for the addition of our latest family member, affectionately named ‘Fluffy Cupcake Hammond,’ she seems to be settling in just fine.
This is our family’s first feline four legged friend. Admittedly, I am not a ‘cat’ person. Our family has always been partial to dogs and I have allergies to the dander of long hair animals.
Yes, I have allergies and we adopted a long haired Siamese cat. It was not planned. Mommy was caught in the ‘moment’ and, well, the rest is definitely now history. Fluffy Cupcake is not going anywhere.
Perhaps I should back track just a bit. We have friends who rescued this breed of cat several years ago. Whenever our family visits the kids always seem to come home raving about Tanner for days. He is a gentle, mild mannered cat, who leaves my eyes itching but my children’s hearts full.
With a dog and guinea pig currently occupying our household, we frequent Petco pretty regularly. Majority of the time there is a list of pet needs, but I always allot enough time for the kids to look at the varying other animals, fish and reptiles. Typically there is always a final stop at the ‘adoption’ area where a handful of cats always seem to reside.
So, earlier this month while my eldest child was at school my four-year-old and I set out for a new guinea pig cage and a few supplies. Long story short and broken down quite simply: Mommy found a cage at an incredible deal and was so overjoyed that when she saw the long haired Siamese she lost her mind and adopted it.
Of course, watching my daughter console the mild mannered cat through the cage door and look to mommy to save it did not hurt. Her card read: Approx. four years, spayed, declawed, good with kids and dogs. My head replied with: check, check and check and before I knew it our ‘check out’ total now equaled the money we had saved on the cage. Welcome to parenthood.
Now, to briefly address the allergy sufferers wondering how I manage through everyday life I have good news.
Yes, night one was tough. It was especially tough since Fluffy Cupcake elected my bed (well, pillow) to occupy at bedtime. As I patted the end of the bed motioning for her to relocate, our Terrier jumped up to curl up. The cat hissed, our dog hunched up and my nightstand fell over as I jumped up to prevent the inevitable. Yes, a scene fresh out of a sitcom at 10 o’clock at night.
Three weeks later, my bedroom door becomes closed from about 6 p.m. on. Fluffy has adapted to any one of the other two beds which occupy our household and my children are thrilled.
Midway through week one I began utilizing allergy pills with the belief that I would adjust to the dander. Crazy theory, I know. Fortunately I had experienced this dander problem when we adopted our first long haired terrier and eventually adapted. So, I am happy to report progress is being made in the allergy department.
I did have to finally out myself to the kids, as they noticed mommy was in no hurry to have Fluffy in her lap or to be close to her for extended periods of time. The benefit of being truthful with them, is now they enjoy occupying her time to ‘help mommy.’
Both children are in absolute love with our newest addition and are actually doing a pretty good job of continuing to love and adore the other two pets who … were there first.
My four year old is without doubt the most obsessed with Fluffy. She stalks her likening herself somewhat to Darla, a character from the ever popular Pixar Classic “Finding Nemo.”
The image of Darla, face pressed against the glass of the fish aquarium repeating “Here Fishy, Fishy” did not leave my mind for the first few weeks of Fluffy’s tenancy in our home. It was much of what occupied my daughter’s time as she would wander our house questioning, “Where’s Fluffy?” This was then appropriately followed by “Here Kitty, Kitty. Come here Fluffy Cupcake.”
Incorporating Fluffy into our family has required adjustment of a few things, but truth be told, it’s really been seamless (minus the spilt night stand). Late last week, watching my daughter comfort Fluffy in her lap I realized something valuable.
I always wanted a cat when I was a little girl. Growing up in apartments and townhouses, pets (aside from birds and fish) were not allowed. I longed for my own pet to care for. One I could snuggle, love and sleep with.
So that night, as I watched my daughter, I did two things. First I took a picture. Then I accepted that I was (in my own way) doing what we all hope to do as parents. I was building a life better than the one I had for my children.
All parents strive for this, don’t they? Sadly, I think we often view it as financial… but there’s more. I don’t doubt that had our living situation been different, my mother would have traded my parakeets for a cat or lap dog.
My mom did a great job teaching me all she knew, providing a loving home and teaching me responsibility and kindness. Now, as the parent it is my job to not only pass that on to my children… but build on it.
The irony is, that confirmation of doing this found me and presented itself through allergy-ridden eyes wrapped in a gift named Fluffy Cupcake.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.