I grew up in a dog family, both of my parents were dog lovers. My Dad had a St. Bernard named Heidi that was his “man’s best friend” when he returned home from WW2. She lived in his fraternity and attended college classes with him. She spent nights in the library with my Dad during his three years of law school. After graduation, she moved from Colorado to Wyoming with my Dad as he established his law practice. My Mom grew up with a beautiful, black Cocker Spaniel named Lucy and an English Bulldog named Rebel.
The first dog that I really remember being attached to was a dachshund named Heidi (my Dad used this name over and over). Heidi would walk us to school every morning, across a major intersection, then find her way home. The crossing guard knew Heidi, helping her to safely cross on her return home. After school one afternoon we discovered that Heidi had been hit by a car. We were heartbroken.
After Heidi, the Dachshund, Pierre the miniature Poodle joined our family. Pierre and my Dad would sometimes disappear to the mountains for an afternoon to “convene with nature.” Looking back now, after reading my Dad’s war diary, it’s obvious that my Dad must have suffered a lot of trauma during WW2 and the mountains were his way of finding peace. Pierre was his confidant and hiking partner. Pierre was such a great family dog, he was playful yet empathetic. Pierre died in his sleep, his shiny black coat had become completely silver in his old age. My Dad buried him in our backyard.
Shortly after Pierre’s death, we learned that a neighbor had a litter of St. Bernard puppies, we were ready for a puppy. We eagerly opened the gate to the neighbor’s backyard to a sea of St. Bernard’s. Both parents and their chubby twelve eight week old puppies. Heidi, the second St. Bernard (third Heidi) chose us, she stuck like glue to my Dad.
Everyone in our neighborhood had dogs, there weren’t any cats wandering around, until the summer day that a cat showed up at our back door. Both of my parents were allergic to cats so we knew nothing about them. This cat was odd, always hanging around, doing a figure eight between our legs. I loved her, she was unpredictable and quirky. One day she was there waiting for food and then she was gone. Several weeks after her disappearance we heard meowing in the garage. My Dad surmised that the cat had gotten stuck in the garage ceiling. He broke the ceiling plaster closest to the meowing spot, expecting to extricate the crazy cat that had adopted us. We all watched as my Dad stood on a ladder pulling out not one, but six tiny kittens from the ceiling, the mother cat was nowhere in sight.
Heidi was in heaven, the kittens, who were obviously weaned, became her babies, they spent hours crawling all over her as she laid on the floor, quietly licking their fur. Eventually, all the kittens found loving homes, we never saw the mother cat again.
My daughter’s horse instructor raised Persian and Exotic Shorthair cats in Makakilo, HI. She gave us the most beautiful black Persian male that we named, Lava and a darling tortoise shell Exotic Shorthair female that we named Liliuokalani (Lily). Both beautiful and sweet cats that my children and I adored, we became “cat people!” They were our introduction into the wonderful personalities of cats. We have been lucky to have many cats choose us that have managed to live with our many dogs happily through the years.
International Cat Day was established by the International Fund for Animal Welfare in 2020 and is celebrated on August 8 to honor and appreciate cats. The IFAW is one of the biggest animal conservation and welfare charities. The goals of the organization are to; rescue animals, safeguard animal populations, advocate for more animal protection, and preserve habitats.
The first human record about cats can be found in Ancient Egyptian Civilization’s culture. Egyptians adored cats and considered them to be gods. In America, cats were part of the cargo on the colonization ships to minimize vermin and disease, those cats went ashore and flourished.
According to Forbes magazine, 46.5 million households in America own cats. Forty percent of cat owners got their cats from an animal shelter or rescue. Vermont has the highest rate of cat ownership, the District of Columbia has the lowest. Sixty percent of cat owners are women.
You are invited to participate in International Cat Day by adopting a new kitty or donating to your local cat shelter.
“Time spent with cats is never wasted.” – Sigmund Freud