Welcome to the newest cat-centric addition to Care2: Feline Muse, written by me, Cherise Udell, a 40-something mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and most importantly for this blog, cat aficionado.
My love of cats seemingly began in a past life. As a child, I would whisper conspiratorially to anyone who would listen that, “while I am human now, I was most definitely, absolutely once a cat.”
When I was seven, I started a cat club with my two best friends. To make our club official we decided upon leopard print jumpsuits emblazoned with our club name, “The Copy Cats.” If we wore our costumes, which of course we did, we always got a discount at the roller rink. Cats on Skates — we thought we were hip and starting a new trend, but somehow it never caught on.
As a teenager I was always dragging home stray furballs – Midnight, the black silky beauty; Shortcakes, the petite Calico; James Bond, the handsome tuxedo cat with mischievous yellow eyes and a penchant for stealing panties out of the laundry bin. My mom was tolerant as long as I paid for their food and eventually found them new homes – that is until our extended cat family ballooned to eight!
In my late twenties, I flirted with adventure and moved to Ecuador where I was a swashbuckling, machete-wielding Amazon Jungle guide (really!). This Amazon adventure brought me in close proximity not only to tarantulas, piranhas, and anacondas, but also to an entirely new menagerie of felines: ocelots, jaguarundis, oncillas, and jaguars.
My favorite cat encounter was the one that was most up close and personal, very personal: I became a surrogate mama to an orphaned ocelot kitten. I named this little bundle of fur and fangs, Mishki Supai, which translated to Sweet Devil in Quechua, the ancient tongue of the Incas. Mishki Supai slept with me at night (on my chest or curled around my head), followed me through the rainforest during the day and climbed the screened windows of my thatched cabana when she was left alone. She purred, stretched her claws and groomed just like your typical housecat. But her wildcat spit and vinegar came out when it was feeding time. Let’s just put it this way – you absolutely did not want to put your hand in between Mishki and her food, otherwise you would be her food. When Mishki was full grown at about 25 pounds, I sadly relinquished her to the Quito Zoo.
Now that I am a semi-urban homemaker-mother-activist in Salt Lake City, Utah, the exotic days of raising ocelot kittens are long past. However, being the cat lover that I am, we adopted three rescue cats (Mr. Mittens, Sushi and Rikki Tikki Tabby, shown above) and our home is a revolving door of foster kittens and their mamas.
Please share your love stories. Was there a special cat that cuddled and purred its way into your heart? When did your love of cats begin? And can you be both a “cat person” and a “dog person”? Looking forward to your comments.