Celebrating cats on their special day


In case you aren’t aware, in just a few days we can all celebrate International Cat Day. Thursday is our chance for a full 24 hours of recognition of one of humanity’s oldest and most beloved pets. Even so, it wasn’t until 2002 that the International Fund for Animal Welfare joined other animal welfare groups to celebrate the most popular pet on the planet.

I know there are many dog lovers (I’ve owned dogs) who dispute the popularity of cats, but the numbers don’t lie. I read that there’s an estimated 500 million cats out there living their good life, whether that’s roaming around neighborhoods and farm yards and backyards, or staying contentedly inside their owner’s home.

It looks like I still have plenty of time to figure out how to arrange a celebration for my cat, Maxine. I got her from a shelter about six years ago in a special program there to place senior cats. She came in as a stray, poor thing, and was already declawed on all fours. When you think about it, that had to be dangerous for her.

Maxine has always been an easy keeper, so she’s perfect for me since she is the first inside pet I’ve ever had. She never hurries or apparently even thinks about bolting out a door that’s open briefly. She’s calm, easy-going, and pads quietly around my house. And she sleeps a lot.

Yet somehow Maxine knows when I come into the room where she’s sleeping, no matter how quiet I am. That’s when she raises her head, looks around, spies me, and immediately gets out of her bed to make it to my chair before I do. No invitation needed. When I move her aside to sit down myself, she waits patiently till I settle in and then plops into my lap. Then she turns on the purring.

Now that she’s 15, I’m quite amazed at how nimbly and quickly Maxine can jump into a lap from the floor, including the lap of an unsuspecting visitor. And when she sits on the floor right next to a chair where I am, locking her gaze on me, I long ago learned it was easier to just give up and let her onto my lap rather than try to ignore that look.

I grew up with litters of kittens always around our farmstead or in the hanging out in the hay mow while they waited for time to milk the cows. So I didn’t even know that cats shed. Now I sure do, and I do think that Maxine’s only negative quality is that she sheds.

Still, Maxine is a good, steady, comforting companion with very few demands. I know she’s on my side. She loves me, but on her own terms and her own schedule. I can see why she deserves a day in her honor.