Cats and Dogs and Family Tales by Ren Martinez

I have been around animals my whole life. Whether it was a slew of gerbils, a handful of hamsters, two dogs, four cats, and one parrot that still despises me despite knowing me for 26 years, I have been covered in more than my fair share of animal hair.

Before I was in college, all the pets we had were family pets. It was only when I was 21 that I had that creeping feeling, that curl of maternal instinct that craved something soft and fluffy. I was scanning through PetFinder when I came across a particular picture. It was a little black shock of fur in a blue blanket. It’s eyes were barely squinted open, its face turned toward the camera in an expression that could only be described as, “Whaddya lookin’ at?” I knew that was my kitten.

Trouble was pure black and not entirely interested in me when I went to visit him at the foster mom’s house, but I fell in love with him anyway. The first night in my bedroom, my mom and sisters cooing over the newest addition, he kept jumping up our shoulders onto the bed and then back down again. After much thought, I decided to rename him Puck, after the impish Shakespearean sprite. He’s been my constant companion ever since, sleeping curled around my hand and grumbling when I do his nails. He’s not much of a cuddler, but he needs to be in the same room as me, following me around as I go, poised on top of the arm of my couch as I browse the internet. He’s been with me through four moves and, despite hiding under the bed for a few days each time, he manages to still forgive me for my transgressions.

Since his arrival, my sister has gotten a boxer and a pit mix, my parents adopted a neighborhood cat, and I brought in a sister for Puck, a sweet little Calico named Poe whose more puppy than kitten. Our house is full of animal hair and dog drool, torn up cat toys and the loud shrieks of a grumpy parrot.

We’re not exactly the Doolittles, but we are family.

 

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