Like  Dan McQuade, I’m a cat person, and this piece on all the cats he’s known and grown to love hit me in the heart. I’m reminded of my first cat, Striper, who we adopted when I was 10 and lived until I was in my early 20s, and think about our two current cats, Kaia and Ashira, who have also become lovable companions to my 5-year-old daughter. McQuade writes about the unique bonds formed with cats in our own household, but also the felines we encounter in our neighborhood; those connections, while more casual, also touch us deeply. McQuade also reflects on the influence of the comic strip Garfield, and a moving short from a 1988 special, Garfield: His 9 Lives, that beautifully captures the lifelong cat-human experience. This is a sweet little essay, and “Diana’s Piano,” the five-minute short McQuade recommends, is worth a watch.

I prefer cats to dogs. They’re smaller, you don’t have to walk them, and they generally like to be left alone. I also like that you seem to have to earn their attention. And once you make friends with a cat, it is a stream of cuteness. Detective now sleeps next to my chest or behind Jan’s legs, purring throughout the night. In the wild, cats only really meow to their mom when they’re kittens; it’s how they ask for food. But they do meow at humans, whenever the spirit moves them. The way I see it, the cats I meet are intentionally being cute in order to get me to do things for them—give them food, pet them nicely, the usual. I accept the terms of this agreement.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.