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SPECIES STORIES: CHLOE
It’s one of those first date questions everyone should ask: “Are you a dog or a cat person?” I’m a self-professed dog person in a perpetual multi dog household. I tease my cat loving friends and try to understand how a cat’s distant gaze spells connection. It seemed that the aloofness of a cat could never equate the gleeful bond I shared with my dogs. A cat was unforgiving, but a dog at least feigned remorse and did so well.
Oddly as it sounds to me, there are millions of people in this world who actually prefer the company of cats to dogs. Then there are the people that share their lives with both cats and dogs. It’s true some cat people prefer a pet that prides it’s self on elusiveness and independence. Cat people sometimes have a cat that hides out when a dog person like me comes to visit. It’s as if the cat only exists in the recesses of imagination. They talk about having a cat, but I’ve never seen her.
My cat like “stand-offish-ness” toward cats was probably attributed to the time I pet sat for a calico named Missy. Missy was the hide-under-the-bed-type, although she was probably disturbed by the owner’s electronic security dog bark that went off at the front door when it sensed motion. The speaker emitted a bark suggesting to would be intruders that the firewall of the “electronic dog” was nothing more than a Cocker Spaniel. When the batteries were low the bark slowed and tired.
It was dark when I returned to Missy one evening. I was there to clean the cat box and offer Missy her nightly treat morsels. Missy stood suspiciously near an open coat closet. I knelt down to hand her a treat she leapt onto my back, her claws digging through my jacket. Then she hopped from my back to the top shelf of the coat closet. It wasn’t a Steven King tale after all, yet my view of cats was altered that day.
Once in my life I fell in love with a cat. Her name was Chloe and I spent seven years of my life with her. She was not my own cat, but I was with her often while Chloe’s owner traveled frequently.
Chloe was a small tabby with stubby legs and an authoritative meow. Once a shelter cat, she had been re-homed a second time. This time she settled in for the long haul. She enjoyed snuggling on the couch and sleeping on my bed. She was never the type to hide out for long, mainly because her breakfast was top priority. Her insistent caterwaul began before dawn even on the weekend. When I walked toward the kitchen, she lead the way meowing down the hall way as if she were a trained search and rescue dog, only this was about food.
In my life I was well versed in dogs taking my food, but not cats. Chloe would help herself to anything I left on my plate. Scattering when reprimanded, only to sit a few feet away and lick her paws, her gold eyes blinking at me with indifference.
Sometimes Chloe completely ignored me and hid in the bushes, or behind the plethora of angel statues that landscaped her yard. She would watch me call her inside when it was dark. It was as if she enjoyed that I was searching for her. “Fine” I would say to the darkness. “I’m leaving the door open when you’re ready to come back”. Eventually, I would hear “Meow, meow” as she sauntered slowly back into the house.
Chloe was the most delightful cat I’ve ever known. I loved the way her tummy swayed from side to side. I loved her because she made no apologies. Confidence was her state of being. She did what she wanted, how and when she wanted. She didn’t care what the other cats and dogs thought of her. She was a living example of every quality that makes life colorful.
Chloe’s owner contacted me sometime later letting me know that the long-lived Chloe had gone to rainbow bridge. She died peacefully in her sleep on the full moon after eating a hearty breakfast. I still think of Chloe and how she taught me that even a dog person like me would always love at least one cat.