When I was a kid, we had cats. Mom had cats; dad had cats, everywhere a cat. They were pets. We petted them, fed them, changed the litter and mostly ignored them.
When I was married, I had three young step kids, ages seven, eight and ten. Husband was in a nasty custody battle with his ex-wife. She got a dog, so we got a cat. The kids preferred the dog, but I was happy to have Petie, the cat.
Petie was a loving cat. She gave great kisses. Somewhere in here, Petie went from being a pet to being family.
When the ex-husband and I divorced, I moved out and “cat napped” Petie. Even though Jake, the youngest step kid, had married Petie, don’t ask of it, I felt she’d be better off with me. Jake was a loving boy, too sensitive for this world. He OD’d six years ago when he was eighteen. Perhaps he is now with his wife, Petie, in heaven.
I kept dating, but was always disappointed with the men I met online. As I worked long hours, I got Violet, as a companion for Petie. Petie was never the same after this. She knew I loved Violet more and became depressed. I loved Petie, lots, but I fell in love with Violet.
We looked alike, had the same big green eyes and would stare at each other for hours. Somewhere during this period, there was a shift. I grew to love animals more than I did people. Along with my own pets, I had many animal friends, both dogs and cats. I felt relaxed around them and they loved me unconditionally. Okay, the dogs did. The cats had conditions. They always do.
I was afraid of dogs when I was younger. A toy poodle bit me when I was four; it freaked me out. It wasn’t until I was in my late 30s that I met a dog that changed my opinion. His name was Mr. Ferguson.
Mr. F was a large Bouvier de Flanders. Kids rode him. One night, at his mom’s place, I was sitting on the floor when he walked over and put his paw on my leg. I took it off. He put it back. I took it off. He put it back and stared balefully at me. I decided to be his friend and have never looked back. So many of my friends have dogs and they have become a source of joy for me.
Meanwhile, Petie, Vi and I moved back to New York from California. I had to put them in with the luggage to fly them, and they never forgave me. Everyone loved Vi, a tiny black cat that was beguiling. My father would crawl around the floor calling, “Violet, Violet, come to daddy.” She didn’t, but he loved her from afar.
When I lost my job and was home more, I began to value the company of the girls. They became my children. I still dated, but found I’d rather stay home with them and have a frozen meal than have some fellow take me to dinner. I was in a relationship for three years, but the whole time, I couldn’t wait to be home with the girls.
Petie passed in 2013 and it was a sad time, as one might imagine. The veterinarian gave me clay paw prints, which I still have. At this point, I felt Vi needed a companion. This turned out to be a mistake. Vi was twelve and arthritic; Charlie was two months old and energetic. He kept putting Vi in a headlock and Vi would shriek. He was just playing, but Vi was crotchety.
In 2014, I spent eight grand to keep my Vi alive, but she passed in January 2015. I was devastated. I had a visitation from her one night and though I know she is looking out for me, I miss her every day.
Just before Vi passed, I got Janie aka Calamity Jane, a mini Vi. At ten weeks, she was black and tiny with big green eyes like Vi and made the transition bearable. This is where the similarity ends, remember “Dennis the Menace,” but that’s an essay for another day.
Here’s an aside. You know how pets look lovingly at you from their crates, at Petco, raising their paws to your face as if to say, “Take me home please.” They’re playing you.
Charlie is madly in love with Janie and lies around mooning all day. He’s hoping for play. I love watching them engage and groom each other.
I am still on a dating website, but truthfully, I’ve had it with men. They're too high maintenance and babyish. If I go away, I can leave the cats. They don’t ask, “Who were you with? Where are you going?” They are chill, as long as they have food and treats. They do seem pissed when I return from a cat-sitting job, but, hey, I must bring home the kibble.
Of course, having a support system when I get old would be nice. I have no kids and cats can’t drive people to appointments. I am working on this. I may have to give in and remarry. To be continued.
Wendy Vega ran the board for radio legends "Cousin Brucie" and Dan Ingram, at WABC-AM, and Zacherle at WPLJ-FM, all in New York City. At WNEW-AM, Jonathan Schwartz stole her lunch and she became great friends with the legend of radio legends, William B Williams. Then Vega moved to news, first WINS-AM 1010, in New York City, later television stations in Los Angeles. Today, she is a former television news editor replaced by a machine. She's a writer living near the train station in Larchmont, New York. Joan Rivers came from Larchmont, NY. Maybe the same fate will befall Vega as befell Rivers. Watch this space.
Click above to tell a friend about this article.