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A Not-So-Crazy Cat Lady

My friend took a trip to Cape Cod and brought me back a souvenir. “You are so hard to buy for,” she told me. “So I brought something for your cat.” She eagerly held out a rhinestone charm in the shape of a crown. “This is for her cat collar,” she said, “Sonnet’s such a spoiled princess, I thought it fit.” Well, my friend has seen my cat numerous times and she has never worn a cat collar since I brought her home. My boss would comment that they do not make cat collars large enough to fit around her pudgy neck, but even if they did, I wouldn’t want to demean Sonnet with a fake rhinestone charm. Of course I politely and graciously thanked her with a hug. I turned away and sorrowfully looked at my gift while she gave my other friend a cool art deco piece for her kitchen.

I went to my family reunion in Boston this year and we had a Christmas in July, as no one can travel in the winter. We held a Yankee swap, where we draw numbers, choose a gift from the pile, and can steal another’s if they have picked something more appealing. I opened my gift under the watchful eye of the family – a stained glass vase with some sort of figures on the side. Upon closer look I saw they were cats. “Oh, I’m so glad a CAT person got my gift, ” I heard someone exclaim, and I smiled weakly. No one stole my gift.

In May, a package arrived from a college friend who is now a Green Beret in the Army’s Special Forces. Having completed a three-month deployment to Senegal and then two months in Tunisia, he barely was back in the States when Uncle Sam sent him packing to Guinea for six months. Long ago he had hinted at buying me something in a Senegal marketplace that reminded him of me, but I had forgotten about the mysterious African gift. I ripped open the package from Ft. Bragg in eager anticipation. I pulled out a carved wooden figure the color of deep mahogany: a cat. Stifling a groan, I read the note, hastily penned as he readied for another deployment: “This is a Jaguar (I stood corrected)…I thought it represents your spirit animal pretty well…not getting all metaphysical on you…I just think that if you were an animal that it would be a Jaguar.”

“Wish I could help celebrate your birthday,” he continued. “But the world needs me!” I smiled at his tongue-in-cheek bravado. Or maybe not so tongue-in cheek. If you want to question a man who rises at 0400 to run 6-10 miles before joining the rest of his team at 0600 for P/T and teaches hand-to-hand combat techniques, be my guest. But, my animal spirit? I don’t know much about jaguars, other than an expensive British car is named for the creature. Although not a prissy Persian, it was still in the cat family. I skeptically studied the sculpture, which is about ten inches long from head to tail. Although crude in detail, the artist captured the jaguar in low stride, its head determined and mouth open in mid-snarl. The front paw is slightly spread, as if just firmly planted on the jungle path. Hands meticulously sanded its lean body and stained it to an ebony sheen, and the elegant tail arches with a lithe flair. Shaped a world away, this cat has never seen a tacky country gift store. It’s not cute. It’s not fuzzy. It’s definitely not darling. I love it.

Kristine McComis, The OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital Newsletter, Volume 8, Number 10, October, 2002.

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Susan Wagner

Dr. Susan Wagner is a board certified veterinary neurologist whose pioneering work acknowledges the bioenergetic interaction between people and animals. She is an advocate for change in the area of interpersonal violence and animal cruelty, and works toward a greater understanding surrounding the health implications of the human-animal bond. Dr. Wagner is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University Veterinary College, a Level IV Healing Touch for Animals practitioner and co-author of Through A Dog’s Ear.

138 comments

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8:56AM PDT on May 3, 2011

THANK YOU

8:38AM PST on Jan 23, 2011

She must have been loved by many, sad to have lost her life she was still too young,
I loved the story... thankyou.

1:07PM PDT on Oct 20, 2010

I was engaged to Kristine. I came across this site while googling her writings. Thank you to Dr. Wagner for the nice tribute to Kristine. Thank you to all for the kind words about Kristine and her writing. She enjoyed writing about all kinds of animals in the vet hospital newsletter for many years.

An update for those who have asked about Sonnet Sonnet passed away about a year ago after a long happy life. Kristine had another cat named Cinnamon who is about five years old. Cinnamon as a new loving home with Kristine's mother where she is well looked after.

12:28PM PDT on Oct 9, 2010

I have never thought about it before, but it's very true that when someone gets a cat, they automatically become a "cat person" in everyone else's eyes. I am a huge Florida Gators fan, and I have told everyone that whenever they want to buy me a gift, you can't go wrong buying me something that has to do with the Gators. Nobody listens, but as soon as everyone thinks you are interested in something, you get over-loaded with it. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense!

6:15PM PDT on Sep 30, 2010

I am sorry to hear that she lost her battle. May she rest in peace.


I love that my family and friends give me cat stuff. They know not to give me pins and stuff. It has to be beautiful animals and hopefully useful somehow. I am grateful.

11:30PM PDT on Sep 24, 2010

good story.

5:41PM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

how true it is............but, but, but, I'm more than just the person who shares our home with feline friends, folks!
well....OK :) we do have a special relationship with the "sisters" here...and you know what they say, "dogs have masters, cats have staff."

9:29AM PDT on Sep 12, 2010

thank you

4:21AM PDT on Sep 11, 2010

Good reading, thanks.

12:26PM PDT on Sep 10, 2010

Thank you for sharing.

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