We have five cats.
At one point not so long ago, I would have shuddered to say that aloud because I knew the harsh judgement that would accompany the confession. I had seen the looks of sheer horror when I’d admitted to having three cats and then the heightened shocked when the number rose to four.
Five cats seemed to be synonymous with too many, at least to most people. Rash judgments about my husband and I quickly followed the words to the point I would hide how many cats we had. When conversations arose about how many cats we owned, I would say non-specific things like “quite a few.”
Even though I loved those five furry creatures with all my being and was glad to open my home to them, I couldn’t bring myself to admit how many lived in our home simply because I was afraid of what others would think.
And then, at some point, something happened: I stopped giving a damn about what others thought about my crazy cat lady status.
We all have our callings in life, and we all have our passions. For me, rescuing animals has been a life-long goal.
Perhaps it runs in my family. My grandma and my great-grandma were both avid cat savers, having quite a few between them over the years. I grew up in my family learning to be kind to animals and that it was admirable to save them. I even found a stray guinea pig when I was in middle school that my parents helped me nurse back to health and keep.
Love for animals runs in my blood, and a passion to save stray cats has become a fulfilling part of my life. I’m fortunate enough to have a husband who also has a soft spot for unwanted creatures. Although we currently have five cats, we’ve housed a total of eight over our five years of marriage.
All of our cats have been rescued in some form—either abandoned, humane society cats, or the progeny of stray cats. All five cats came from situations of abandonment and need. All five cats needed love and somewhere to call home.
I am no longer ashamed about giving them just that.
That’s not to say I still don’t get the glares, the shocked looks, or the rude comments about uncleanliness. I still hear comments about cats being horrible and how no one in their right mind would have five. People seem to assume that five cats equates to a house worthy of being condemned.
My house is, in truth, far from perfect. Lint rollers are in high demand, no matter how many times I run the sweeper. Cats sitting on the table is unfortunately a reality quite frequently. We go through what feels like a pallet of litter a month, and I spent a lot of time each day with a litter scoop in hand. Five cats requires many trips to the vet and many trips to Target to buy cat supplies—not that I necessarily mind having an excuse to go to Target for an extra trip.
Nonetheless, the joy I get in return is well worth sacrificing pristine floors or wearing black dress pants. At the risk of sounding more like the crazy in the crazy cat lady title, the five cats we have are truly a part of the family. Each has his or her own personality and quirks we’ve come to appreciate and enjoy. The five cats are there to greet us everyday when we come home from work and to love us.
Cats get a bad rap, and cat owners get an even worse one, especially when you have multiples.
But I’ve learned not to be ashamed of my cat rescuing status—instead, I’ve learned to own it with pride.
To change the life of a single animal and show him or her love is to find a depth to the human experience you can only understand firsthand. To change the lives of more than one needy cat can be a sacrifice, but it heightens the feelings of purpose even more.
In truth, I wish I could save more than the cats I have so far.
Spoken perhaps like a true crazy cat lady, I wish I could save them all.
However, I am proud to say I’ve been privileged enough to show my cats what a happy, safe, loving home looks like. I am proud to say I saved the cats I have from neglect, abandonment, and loneliness.
In return, I’ve found joy tenfold and a way to fulfill my self-assumed purpose of brightening the lives of the world’s furry creatures.
I personally don’t see anything shameful or repulsive in that.
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and contemporary romance author with Hot Tree Publishing. To learn more about her works, visit her blog.