Cats… you’ve got to love ’em. Unless of course you hate ’em. There’s really no middle ground with these guys. I’ve never met anyone who’s ambivalent about felines. I know MANY Cat Ladies (and a few Cat Men) and I know equally as many who despise the beasts. Either way, these days, love ’em or hate ’em, stories about cats are a welcome distraction from “real life.” So, my dear reader, I gift you with this. My best #TBT cat story.
I’m sitting at my desk in Mrs. Emery’s third grade classroom, when all of a sudden there is a knock on the door. It’s the principle.
“Brittany,” she says with a somber tone. “Please gather your things and come with me.”
Oh, god. I thought as my blood ran cold. I hardly ever got in trouble, and couldn’t imagine what I had done to be pulled out of class like this. Once out in the hallway the principle explained that there had been a family emergency and that my mom was there to pick me up.
My younger brother and sister had already been pulled from their classrooms and were sitting in the backseat of the car. Their faces were ashen. All three of us were too scared to ask what had happened, preferring to ride in deafening science; all the while imagining worst case scenarios.
We’ve run out of money and have to go into hiding.
BOTH Grandma’s are dead!
So on, and so forth. It was only a 10 minute drive to our house but it felt like a lifetime as all of my fears played through my mind. My mom herded us into the house, and directed us to all go into the front bathroom. There was barely enough room to turn around once the four of us were in there, but I did notice a shoebox on the toilet. Inside of it was our semi-adopted stray cat (‘semi’ meaning we fed him every once in a while, but didn’t give him a middle or last name, as one does with a bona-fide pet – we’ll refer to her thus as SC). Confused, I asked my mom if Grandma was dead. Confused herself, she said,
“No! Why would you think that?”
“Because you pulled us out of school and told the principle there was a family emergency!”
In my young mind, things were very binary. It was either day or night, right or wrong, the Bulls or every other team. Death was the only acceptable cause – so I thought – for being pulled out of school. Just then, I heard a sound, turned to look at SC and thus began the family emergency.
Apparently the stray cat had been around the block (if you know what I mean) and was about to begin giving birth. We were made to watch.
I cried. I cried tears of anger for being pulled out of school. How would my grades be affected by this?! I cried tears of terror for what I was watching… and hearing… and SMELLING. How can one resume life after such an encounter? I cried tears of relief, as my Grandma had not died! And finally, after what felt like hours as I gently pet SC, I cried tears of wonder for having watched life – as putrid as it was – come into this world.
One of the reasons – aside from the obvious absurdness of it all – that I so clearly remember this event is because it was one of those “defining moments.” I began to learn some valuable life lessons that day; some of which were:
Life should be witnessed and celebrated.
Cats are very vocal during birth.
The classroom is not the only place where one learns things.
As wonderful as life is, birth is equally SUPER. GROSS.
All living things are connected.
Did I mention that cats are very vocal during birth? SO. MUCH. MOANING.
And the list goes on. My childhood was not always a normal one, and the lessons taught to me came from every which way. For this, I am forever grateful. At a young age I was able to empathize and connect with animals, to respect all living things and to clean up after a cat explodes her womb in a shoebox. Ah, the wondrous things one can learn from cats.