The Most Wrong I Have Ever Been
I like to think of myself as an open-minded individual. I feel like I am capable of listening to different sides of an argument and exploring alternative ways of thinking. There is one thing that I carried around for, oh, approximately 28 years, that I could not have been more wrong about.
“I hate cats.”
That was all there was to it.
I was a card-carrying cat-hater and I never really gave it a second thought. I felt supported in my opinion and no one ever questioned me. It would be easy to say that I had a traumatic experience involving a cat and thus began my disdain, but honestly, I have no clue where it came from. I just hated cats.
I didn’t have a strong opinion about animals growing up. I had a few guinea pigs when I was in middle school and my sister had a dog, who lived with us until she passed away (RIP Bailey). A lot of people feel an overwhelming connection with animals, and that just wasn’t me. I said I was a “dog person” but if I am being completely honest, I didn’t necessarily care for dogs much either.
For me, one of the most unsettling things about animals is their unpredictability. You never know what they are thinking or what they are going to do. What is peculiar about my loathing for cats is that I can’t even remember why it started. I think I might have encountered a total of 5 cats in my entire life and that might be pushing it.
My earliest memory of cats was when my parents took us to feed some of the neighbors cats while they were away. Let me tell you, not a great introduction to the species. I can vividly remember a fluffy ball of fur taking up the entire bathroom sink and the smell of wet food and litter permeating across the in-desperate-need-of-a-deep-clean house.
My next memory was my sister-in-law’s family cat, Thomas, who hid under the bed the entire time we were there for Thanksgiving. As a child, I am sure this was mostly just boring, but not life altering.
Finally, my sister and her husband got a cat when they were first dating. His name was Remy. He was white and probably beautiful, but I hated him. Whenever I would stay at their house, my eyes would itch like crazy and I would be all runny-nosed and gross. In my defense, Remy might have been awful since I know for a fact he made poo on their bed whenever they went on vacation. My sister swears he did it on purpose to spite them, no one knows for sure.
It was with confidence that I moved through the world as a cat-hating enthusiast.
Fast forward to 2016 when my boyfriend was dying to get a cat. He loved cats. LOVED cats. Which was kind of hilarious because his ratio of owning good to bad cats was 2:1, not excellent odds. I remember going to his parents house for the first time and being warned “not to even look in the general direction of the cat”. This wild beast was a part of their family for 17 years (RIP PK) and everyone will attest to how much of an asshole she was.
And yet, he wanted a cat with the enthusiasm of a child at the fair who will stop at nothing to get the fluffiest toy that money can win.
I knew I was just buying time, but I told him that based on our schedules it wasn’t feasible for us to get a cat until “next year”.
Next year came, and I stayed true to my word.
I spent months researching cats. “How to integrate kittens into your family so they don’t end up being douchebags”, “do cats really steal your breath”, and so on. We decided he would receive a cat for his birthday in May. I had two months to figure out my shit with cats.
Not only do I believe that animals have an intuitive sense about them, I also believed that if I went into this situation with the bag of hatred I had been carrying around, my cat would know, and become exactly the dickhead I was so afraid of owning.
This affirmation became one of my daily rotations: “The perfect cat comes into our lives at the exact right time.”
Fun fact: Kittens are actually hard to come by.
I thought that kittens were a dime a dozen and on his birthday we would just go out to the local kitten shelter and pick one of a thousand adoptable kittens. That is not true at all. I spent those two months researching and contacting people about their kittens. I was on Craigslist, Petfinder, shelter sites… all of them, every day, looking for the perfect kitten for us.
His birthday was right around the corner, and I finally found an animal shelter who would sell me a kitten. We drove for an hour and a half to the middle of nowhere until the directions said we had arrived. (Side note: Um…. What? Google just dropped us off at a deserted intersection. After driving up and down a few roads we finally found the shelter and went inside to meet all the kittens.)
We walked into a small area where there were the cutest little kittens playing and chasing and enjoying life. They picked one up and told us she was the one we reserved. Her official name was Emerald, and she was the most perfect thing that has ever lived. It was this moment where my life would forever be changed. I held the most wonderful, sweet, tiny creature and I knew she was meant to be ours. She was playing with her kitty friends but any time someone would pick her up she wouldn’t wiggle at all, she just let us love her.
The drive back home was spent looking at the kitten and petting her in her little carrier. Anxiously waiting to bring our sweet pet into her forever home. I am happy to report, she has always been “our cat” and we could not be more obsessed with her. Sometimes, we find ourselves staring at her talking about how much we love her. (See how great she is for yourself, @pawzingis on Instagram.)
How could this example relate to the way we label the world?
I spent so much of my life “hating” something I hadn’t really experienced. That sounds like several other things in life that we hate without explanation. Stereotypes and judgement protect us from love, joy and happiness. We limit our experiences by how we perceive them. I am here to tell you that not all cats are evil. (And, more importantly, you can change your life by changing your thoughts.)
This type of thinking has held people back all throughout history. These limiting beliefs hold you back in so many ways, it is only after you address their presence that they can be eliminated.
No, all cats are not evil. All moms are not overweight. All marriages are not unhappy. All jobs are not soul-sucking. OMG THE FREEDOM IN KNOWING THIS!!!!!!
Take some time to recognize your own shit and when you hear yourself making a blanket statement, really ask yourself how true it is.