Getting a dog was no problem. All I had to do was show my boyfriend a cute picture of a Basset Hound and Dachshund mix breed, and he was sold. Our life with our dog has been an adventure. He had terrible anxiety when we adopted him, so he seemed to go almost everywhere with us. We became a more active couple as we took him to the dog park or on a walk almost every night. When life wasn’t adventurous, we were content with laying on the couch with our dog stretched across our laps.
It was heartwarming to have a soft cuddle buddy. However, I couldn’t help but secretly look at pictures of cats at the local shelter from time to time. Over the years, I always hoped that a stray sick kitten would show up on our porch so that I would have an excuse to bring it inside and make my boyfriend fall in love with it before it was well enough to be put up for adoption. It didn’t quite happen like that.
Earlier this year, my brother had suddenly and unexpectedly lost his cat during a routine operation. It wasn’t too long after its death before he tried filling the hole in his heart with a new kitten. The kitten was cute and sweet, but it wasn’t the same. He worried he would never bond with a cat the way that he bonded with his first one.
So, he called my mom. She of course agreed to take the kitten off his hands, and she drove to College Station to pick it up. Funnily enough, I never even knew that he had obtained a new kitten at this point. I merely received a phone call from my mom that she was in town and to see if I wanted to have lunch.
We ate lunch and my mom was on her way back to her place with the new kitten. I had never met it or even seen a picture of it. After this lunch, I simply knew that it existed, and I went on with my life.
A couple weeks later, my boyfriend and I went to my parents’ house for spring break. There I saw the most beautiful kitten I had ever laid eyes on; it was the one that was my brother’s a couple of weeks prior. Of course, upon our arrival, she immediately approached me meowing. She rolled over to expose her belly. I remember thinking that it was odd that a kitten was so willing to allow me to rub her belly. She purred as I spent the next few minutes petting her.
Over the next couple of days, my boyfriend began to slowly notice the kitten more. At first, he wanted nothing to do with her. However, by the third day, I caught him leaning down to pet her. This was my chance.
“She’s so sweet, isn’t she?” I said as I approached them. He jumped a little like he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
“Yeah, she’s unlike the cats that I am used to…usually they run away or spend most of their time hiding,” he tried to explain to me like I didn’t grow up with cats my whole life. I sat next to the two of them, and I watched as the kitten rolled onto her belly.
“You know, cats usually don’t like to have their belly touched. I think it means that she likes you,” I said with a tone that hinted I was up to something sneaky. My boyfriend looked at me suspiciously. I didn’t say anything more.
By the end of our trip, I had developed my elaborate plan to convince my boyfriend that we needed this kitten. I had planned exactly how to answer every argument that he would have for not getting a kitten. I envisioned where to put the litter box in our place back home and how to keep her food away from our dog. I would convince him that we would keep the kitten on a temporary basis for a month to see how it works out. If it didn’t work out, then we would just give her back to my mom.
We left my parent’s house and started our long drive home. About half way through the trip, I worked up the courage to bring up the idea of getting the kitten.
“So what did you think of the kitten?” I asked innocently.
“She was nice,” he calmly replied.
“Soooooooooooo…” I began my spiel. I don’t think I took a single breath while I tried to make all my points about why having a kitten wouldn’t be such a bad idea. When I was finished, I did a side-eye from behind the steering wheel to see what expression he had on his face. He was smiling.
“Sure. But if she pees on anything, she goes back to your mom’s,” he calmly said.
Well that was way easier than I expected. I didn’t even need to bring out the extensive arguments I had planned.
I was so happy that I immediately called my mom and made plans for the exchange. She was going to get spayed at the vet that week, and we would wait another week for her to heal up. Then, my mom and I would meet halfway between their house and College Station for me to pick up the kitten. It was all planned.
I hung up the phone, and I must have been gleaming with excitement.
“I get to name her though,” my boyfriend blurted out. He began searching for names on his phone right then and there. I knew he was secretly excited, too. There were a lot of promising names, but one stuck: Hazel.
Over the next week, I bought everything for Hazel’s arrival. I drove halfway to my parent’s house to meet my mom to pick up Hazel. When I brought her home, my boyfriend was still at work, which ended up being a good thing. Hazel was a little scared, and all she wanted to do was hide. I couldn’t help but think that if she was hiding when my boyfriend came home that he would immediately think she was like all the other cats he had known and not like her.
About an hour later, my boyfriend arrived home. Almost immediately, Hazel came out from behind the couch, brushed against his legs, and began purring. I knew exactly what she was doing. She knew who she needed to impress to stay. She knew she needed to turn the charm to 100% to win over his heart. As he reached down to pet her, I couldn’t help but smile.
The last 6 months have been nothing but great with having a kitten around. Our dog has calmed down so much since having Hazel around. When I am around, they pretend to not like each other. However, I have walked into the house to catch them cuddling on the couch many times before, especially now that it’s getting colder.
Hazel is in her crazy stage where she runs around the house like a mad man. You hear things crashing at 2am in the morning? Don’t fear! It’s only Hazel jumping in and out of cardboard boxes or knocking the mail off the dining table. When the crazy dies down, she is quick to crawl right into our bed for the warm cuddles.
I can definitely say that I could do without the hot, stinky, kitty-breath wake up call every morning. As soon as my alarm goes off, she is hovering over the top of me meowing with her nasty breath in my face. At least she is polite enough to wait until my alarm goes off, I suppose.
However, I can definitely say that I could not do without having the rambunctious ball of joy that is my Hazel girl.
Today, Hazel sits in my lap as I write this blog post. She is only sitting in my lap because the human she likes more, my boyfriend, is still at work. I guess it just took the right kitten to him to his senses about cats.
Courtney Adams is a masters student in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences