Lessons from a skincat

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Happy New Year! AND it’s mid-January. I know it. I’m a bit late to the party. Back at blogging! Yes. Photography ate me alive this fall. I love those sunsets and leaves, then Christmas rolled around, and well…I’m back!

Meet Lucy. She’s our two year old Sphynx, aka a “skin cat.” A few recessive genes (yay double r’s in the Punnett square!) makes a Sphynx cat. How’s that for a hands-on STEM lesson plan? Yeah, bring the kids by! Either you’re fascinated and wanna come over and pet her, or you’re totally grossed out right now and possibly wondering why we’re friends. And that’s ok. If you have any sort of reptile or poisonous insect in your house as a “pet,” I’m wondering the same about you. This is our kitty, Lucy, our Lulu, and we love her dearly. But I didn’t always. GASP! I’ll get to that.

Lulu isn’t the first or only of her kind. She’s also not our first Sphynx. Fish was. Now you think I’m even stranger for having a cat named Fish. That’s ok too. My 94 year old grandfather was so terrified by what he thought as a “possum” in my living room that he tried (repeatedly) to stomp on my pretty kitty and save our family from the “varmint” while I shrieked, trying to explain who and what she was, while family members pulled him into a chair. I will never forget the look of sheer panic on his face. Who knew a guy that old could jump so high? I digress.

In January of 2013, I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. Fish was battered by kitty cardiomyopathyheart disease. On a freezing, cloudless Saturday morning padded with fresh snow, January 26th, at the door of the vet’s office, I had to decide to end her suffering. UGH. Not only was that hideously difficult, try watching your then 4 year old cry hysterically for weeks each night, petting the cat’s pictures on the iPad, begging God in her nightly prayers to send her back from heaven. Stomach churning, heart wrenching, gut punching difficult moments as a mom. How did we handle it? Guess. A kitten, of course. Kittens can solve a lot of problems.

A few months later, as birds arrived with spring, Lucy arrived at Newark Airport via from Ed and James, her loving breeders in Raleigh-Durham NC. She purred and welcomed cuddles from day one, and she loved the kids – a bonus, because Fish loved me (and Phil way, way more), and really no one else.

Despite her adorable-ness, loving nature and lightening-quick adaptability to our home, I found myself working to love her. She did nothing wrong. She did everything right. Purred, chased strings, attacked feather toys with bells on cue. So why was my heart so hardened like the Grinch’s on Christmas Eve? It was because every time I saw her, in the background of my mind was a dark urn holding the remains of Fish-cat. I only figured out later, after I realizing how much I had grown to love this 9 lbs of happiness, what my problem was. It took me about a year to get over the fact that she wasn’t Fish.

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Don’t I sound like a monster now? Hear me out.

My problem wasn’t with Lucy. My problem was with me. I couldn’t get over the fact she wasn’t who I had to let go of. Fish was gone at just 8 years old. Without even knowing it, I couldn’t accept the change, and so I didn’t – I couldn’t accept Lucy, let alone love her. As the adage goes, change isn’t easy. No kidding. Major, major understatement. We are creatures of habit, like it or not. Most change is forced upon us. SLAP! Life goes at you again. When the situation is painful, as I learned, it’s easy to become bitter & jaded – and without even meaning to – to hold a cold, marble heart even in the face of an aqua eyed, tiny purring kitten. (Monster! I admit it on a blog!) What did I learn? I learned I don’t always have a say in the changes that happen around me, but I can help how I react to those changes.

Besides my slow climb toward nirvana, there is a happy ending. I was able to make room for Lulu. One morning as I watched T carry her all curled up like a baby doll across the living room for the 55th time without complaint, without even trying to escape the clutches of a super-loving 4 year old, she did it. She won me over big time, oh-yes-she-has-oh-yes-she-has (insert smothering kiss sounds as seen below:)

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(Had to.)