I never wanted cats, but somehow they grew on me

Published 8:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2022

By Charles Qualls

I can correct a misconception for you. You see, as we’ve been here a while and many of you have connected with us on social media, you’d get the impression I’m a cat person. I’m not really. I do have cats, though.

Growing up, we had some pretty wild barn cats on the farm. They would bite you if you tried to pet them. Which I did until I learned my lesson. If you came out to feed them, things could get dangerous. One of them, who my folks unimaginatively named “Tom,” would climb you. He was just one tiny bit short of being feral, I suppose. 

By far, I preferred dogs as pets. They are generally so much more compliant than cats. They are loyal, and the ones we had all wanted to please their masters. My best buddy, a German Shepherd named King, meant the world to me. 

We spent a lot of time together. I still miss King to this day. I suppose that he is in Heaven telling anyone who will listen what a good boy I am. At least, that’s what I want to picture. 

Of course, what I hadn’t yet made peace with is that cats do life on their own terms. A cat would look you in the eye and tell you in all seriousness that it has no interest in being your pet. 

One popular saying is, “Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.” I think that’s about right. Give a cat long enough and it’ll train you like it wants you. Someone else has said that cats really do understand your commands that you issue. They just don’t have any intention of complying with them. 

Pretty quickly, I realized I just plain didn’t like cats. Based solely on my personal experience, I drew my conclusion. Comparing dogs as pets versus cats as pets, my dogs won out easily. By the standards I was judging, at least. 

I would tell people in my younger adult years that I was allergic to the mere idea of felines. Later, I also found out that I was physically allergic to them. As in, cats are still to this day my No. 1 physical allergy. 

These preferences coasted along for a few years. Imagine how my world was rocked, one day, when the beautiful young lady I married began to lobby me for a cat. She wasn’t even kidding. 

I’ve spent decades telling premarital couples that there are just some things that should be two-person decisions. Job resignations, buying or selling houses and moving, or car purchases that will put a strain on shared resources. These are things that a couple ought to talk over and reach agreement on. Oh, and pets. They’re on that list. Deciding to get one, or not, should be something that a couple mutually agree on.  

For the first five marital years, I fended off this notion. She would ask for a cat. I would protest that I didn’t like them and was allergic. One day, my wife asked yet again. That is when I made her the offer I figured she would have to refuse. I said, “If we got one, I would help you with anything that goes into the cat. But anything that comes out of the cat would be your problem.” 

Next thing I knew, this princess I was married to took me up on that idea. Within what seemed like a day, she had picked one out. A tuxedo kitten who lived for the next 20 years with us. On the cat’s death, I think I was more of a mess than Elizabeth. Somehow, I had come around to the cats. 

Nowadays, we have two more. A big orange fellow and a little black female. We love them as our own family. That’s the way life is, I think.

We come at things with our notions. Our ideas of how things should be. Then, life ebbs and flows until it drops us off in places we’d have never dreamed. Disappointments, adjustments and reckonings happen. Somewhere along the way, if we’re open to contentment, we may begrudgingly admit that what life brought us turned out to be as good or better than what we wanted.

I’m still not truly a “cat person,” whatever that is. But I get a kick out of the silly things. I guess somewhere along the way, I adjusted. I’m fascinated with them now. Their intellect and independence is unique. Who knew?

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.