Cats and Their People: A Reading List

While my boyfriend’s parents are away, their cat(s) and I play. Well, one of them plays. The other, a very, very large tabby, resents my presence and hides under the bed, sneaking downstairs to eat only when Micah, a slim Russian Blue, and I have fallen asleep on the couch. This is my first time cat sitting.

For years, I was an avowed dog person, despite the yapping tendencies of my family’s Bichon Frisé. I liked the validation dogs provide, and I didn’t think cats liked me. I was also allergic to cats, like my mom.

Micah and his brother, Jonah, lived together in a swanky nursing home. When the authorities decided the situation wasn’t ideal for the residents or the felines, my friend Abbie adopted Jonah. Jonah won over everyone he met, including me. Russian Blues are notoriously friendly. They’re extremely affectionate, and never standoffish. In other words, they defy every cat stereotype.

Once I met Jonah, I lamented my allergies. I told Abbie I’d been searching for hypoallergenic breeds online, hoping that I, too, could own a cat. “I’ve been looking at Russian Blues,” I said. Abbie said, “Don’t you know? Jonah is a Russian Blue.” That meant Micah was a Russian Blue, too. I actually got up and danced around the apartment. Hands shaking (not a joke), I texted my boyfriend in all caps. I think I interrupted a family dinner.

A few months after my initial plea, my boyfriend’s parents took Micah home for a trial run. The week up to his homecoming, I felt like a child at Christmas. I could not get out of the office fast enough that Friday. Micah was adjusting to life in his new house, camping out in my boyfriend’s bedroom. He preferred to nap under the desk rather than in the bed of toys my boyfriend had prepared. He forced his head into my hands, begging to be petted. Now, he loves ham and cream cheese. He tends to box with Benny, the largish tabby upstairs. He sleeps on my boyfriend’s chest when he comes home from work. He’s a delight.

To honor all the cool cats in our lives, here is a list of stories.

1. “Corporate Cats Still Suck: The Improbable Tale ofIndie Superkitty Lil BUB.” (Camille Dodero, SPIN, July 2014)

Lil BUB lifted her owner out of the mire when she went viral on Reddit. Now, she’s held in higher esteem than most human celebrities. Sources say she emits a serenity they’re hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

2.  “The Story of Sid.” (Rookie, Stephanie Kuehnert, Rookie, November 2013)

Stephanie adopted Sid when she was 15 and he was just a kitten. He helped her grow, kept her accountable and healed her heartache. (Warning: This one’s a tearjerker.)

3. “If a Cat Could Talk.” (David Wood, Aeon, July 2013)

Wood’s wonderful essay discusses the “otherness” of cats, how they exist in the space between domestication and free rein. Have we trained them, or is it the other way around? (Also, I learned Foucault’s cat was named Insanity and Derrida’s cat was called Logos. Amazing.)

4. “How I Turned My Cat Obsession into Something Productive: I Became a Kitty Foster Mom!” (Kezia Willingham, xoJane, July 2013)

Willingham and her family adopted four cats in rapid succession, but nothing could slake the author’s thirst for feline companionship. Soon, she and her daughter started to volunteer at shelters, and now they take care of a mama cat and her kittens.  (This piece is a bit shorter, but the adorable pictures make up for it.)

Photo: Ben+Sam