Shelby and Oliver

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When she stares at you, it’s almost unnerving. Most cats when you pet them don’t stare directly into your eyes the entire time you pet them. Her eyes are a brilliant emerald. Iridescent. Intelligent. She doesn’t usually fall asleep in your lap like other cats either. She just started at you as you pet her.

She won’t eat if you don’t pet her. She has an odd anxiety that if you don’t pet her it isn’t worth living. I can’t actually say it’s true, but with how needy she can be it wouldn’t surprise me. Ever since the day I had found her abandoned in my yard, alone and hungry, she has needed me and clung to me every waking moment of her life.

I had my cat Oliver for about a year by then when I found her. He was my first kitty. Loving and sweet. My mother had eaten her words when she said that she would let me have a kitty if it was an orange tabby with blue eyes. The very next day my neighbor had brought over a little orange kitten full of cow manure in a big bucket. He had those big baby blue eyes that all babies are born with. I took him and cleaned him off. And let him snuggle in a warm towel with me as I slept that first night. We named him Oliver, because he was an orphan and I took him in and loved him as my own.

Shelby, I had found myself. I was doing online school at the time, which was pretty easy since I would start at ten in the morning and finish by noon. So I would take a great deal of time getting some air while mom was doing her morning routine. I was by the swing set. Laying in the grass. I kept hearing the squeak of the rusty chains on the swings blowing in the wind….at least I thought it was the swing. Until her little wet nose on my cheek scared the day lights out of me. She had nestles by my neck.

She was a little calico tabby with the most beautifully painted face and emerald eyes. The air was chilling and you could feel fall closing in closely followed by winter. I took her inside, telling our dog Sandy to be quiet as he sniffed the little fluff in my hand. She was so tiny. No bigger than Sandy’s snout. Able to fit in my small hands. When he licked her and scared her nearly half to death I shooed him away. He was good with cats, but not little ones. Oliver and he had gotten off pretty well, since Oliver had been a fairly large kitten for his age. Oliver was interested intensely, but didn’t quite know what to do with himself. He pranced around my feet as I got some water in a bowl.

I had to teach both my cats how to drink out of a water bowl. You do it by gently pushing their nose in the water and letting them lick it off. She wasn’t a fan, but seemed grateful for the water. She seemed dehydrated. Her skin wasn’t as elastic as it could be. It didn’t bounce back after I would gently grab her scruff. A tell tale sign of lacking in water.

My mother came into the room a bit surprised. I explained I found her. She looked over the little one and began to call people who might want a kitten. No takers. She looked at the pretty little face and which a sigh she said she would talk to dad about it. That night we named her Shelby.

I had waited 13 years of my life to have kitties. Now 10 years later they have brought me through so much. I used to joke that I would have to keep them until they died, because they knew too much and I didn’t want them to tell anyone else my secrets. They were practically my diary for a while. It seems weird to be the kind of person who speaks so frequently and frankly with my cats, but they were my companions. They were perfectly snugly. They seemed to listen so well.

Oliver in his old age has become fatter and more laid back. Shelby in her old age has become more clingy and terribly fearful of anything and anyone who isn’t me. I think she has some pretty bad abandonment issues. People think I’m odd when I say that, but they haven’t experienced her before. The petting to get her to eat. The constant need to be touched and held when you are in her presence. She hisses when I leave her. She cries for a good half an hour when she is left in a cage. She has safe spots too. When she runs around the house there are only 2 places she can be found, in my room, or in the cat room we made for them in the basement. The only two places she will go.

Don’t tell me animals are just instinctual. I have experienced them and have found them to be very emotional creatures.

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