For most of my life I have had an unhealthy, nearly paralyzing, fear of all living things except humans and plants. I was never bitten by a dog, scratched by a cat, or pecked by a bird. Yet I was petrified of them all. However, that fear began to abate after I got to know my cat, Kitty (it took a couple of years for me to touch him and for me to allow him to touch me).
Kitty came into my life because my son wanted a pet and I wanted to please my son. On many occasions, before we adopted Kitty I tried convincing Devaughn that Hippo (his stuffed hippopotamus and constant companion) made a better pet than any live animal. I explained that Hippo could not get sick, would not die, and could be taken everywhere Davaughn went-except to school. I reminded Davuaghn of all the fun adventures that he and Hippo had experienced. I also explained that a real pet required a lot of work. We would have to feed it, clean it, play with it, and nurse it when and if it got sick. Despite my best efforts to discourage my son from getting a real pet, at the conclusion of each little pet talk during which I extolled the value of owning a stuffed animal instead of a live pet, Davaughn’s response was always the same: “Can I please get a real dog or cat?” So, after much prayer and meditation I gave in and granted his request.
Once I accepted the fact that we were going to have a dog or cat in the apartment, I advocated for adopting a dog. I had decided that dogs were less intimidating than carts. Davaughn listened patiently. But the minute we entered the animal shelter he headed straight toward the cats. My attempts to steer him toward dogs were futile. I hoped he would pick an old cat too tired and too fat to move. Davaughn had a different idea. He headed straight for the friskiest kitten in the shelter. I was petrified and wondered how I was going to deal with having such a lively being running around our small apartment. However, nothing I said dismayed Davaughn from wanting the frisky little kitten that we later named Kitty.
We took Kitty home that day and the rest is history. Kitty and I clicked almost immediately. He followed me from room to room like a sick puppy. But, somehow he knew instinctively not to touch me. He walked around me, lay beside me, and communicated his needs to me. We became friends.
Today, when I enter the house Kitty usually greets me at the door. If I sleep too late in the mornings, he knocks on and scratches at my bedroom door to wake me up. When he wants to play he lets me know by laying near or on his favorite interactive toy. He lets me know that his litter box needs cleaning by covering his business with anything on the bathroom floor, including the throw rug.
I have not completely overcome my fear of animals. But Kitty has helped me make huge strides in that direction.