All hail the queen! If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, then you know that I am owned by a cat, named Queen Autumn the First. Today, I thought I would share her story.
The first time we met was years ago on my Grandma’s farm. It was love at first sight. I was outside feeding Grandma’s cats, when a cat I’d never seen before walked out of the woods, meowing. I told my sister to stay back, because I didn’t want her scaring the kitty away. Shuffling forward, I murmured reassuring words to the newcomer. But it turns out I didn’t need to.
The cat marched right up to me, not scared at all, meowing the whole time. Abruptly, she reached up and scratched my leg like a scratching post. I was surprised, but since I was wearing thick jeans, I let her. (Later I learned that cats scratch to mark their territory. So from our first meeting, she had already claimed me as her own. Adorable!) Anyway, I petted her for a while, then I placed some dry cat kibble on the ground for her to eat. After she finished, I hurried inside to tell the rest of the family all about it.
Over the coming days, I looked out for her. The other cats disliked this newcomer. Since the other cats didn’t want to share their food bowls, I always carried kibble over to where Autumn sat, apart from the group. I always took time to pet her. One time I even had to break up a fight!
My sister also loved the new cat, and she was the one who picked out the name Autumn, dubbing the kitty after the season in which we met her. It was perfect.
Later, with my parent’s permission, I took Autumn home. I set the cat carrier in front of her, and she just walked right in! (Although that was the last time she ever did so…)
On the car ride home, Autumn meowed desperately for hours. Nothing we said or did comforted her. Near the end of our trip, we let her out of the carrier. Weakened by exhaustion and fear, she curled up in my sister’s lap and slept. I was kinda jealous, but mainly I was relieved to see her finally relax.
Shortly after we got Autumn home, we drove her to the vet. She was ill with an ear infection, and she carried a respiratory infection. Poor kitty! It turns out that she was also FIV positive. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus actually isn’t as scary as it sounds. It just means that her immune system is weak, so she needs us to slip some medicine into her food every night.
We fed her the medicine religiously, but we made a lot of mistakes in other areas. We had only ever owned canines before, so we treated Autumn like a small dog. We expected her to walk on a leash — nope. We expected her to sleep at night — nope. It was a rough start, but we eventually figured out what she needed.
Speaking of dogs, my beloved dog Dyna was reaching the end of her life about the time we brought Autumn home. So even though it had been love at first sight with Autumn, we drifted apart. There were 2 reasons for this. First, I had to spend most of my free time caring for my dear Dyna as her health failed. And secondly, my sister sorta hogged Autumn, because she was so smitten by the fluffy feline. They were together every day.
However, over time, I started to like Autumn again. In response to this, my sister and I developed a fake jealousy game. We would pretend to turn green with envy whenever Autumn would favor the other with her presence. “Why is she on YOUR bed?!” It was great fun.
But nothing lasts forever. As my sister grew older, her love of cats faded. Ironically, as their relationship grew colder, I was falling more and more in love with Autumn. She was such a sweet, fuzzy kitty! Gradually, I took over Autumn’s care; I started to spend long periods of time with her. Then one day I realized: “Autumn is my cat now.” What a happy day!
In addition, I started researching cats for a book I was writing, and my research helped me understand Autumn better. For example, when I tried to pet her and she walked away, that wasn’t her being cold. She just wasn’t in the mood right then. Autumn has never been a lap cat, but she is very affectionate in the mornings and evenings. If I pet her during those times, she will purr like an outboard motor. But if I try to pet her during the afternoon or night, she won’t like it; afternoons are for sleeping, and nights are for playing and prowling. Once I understood this and respected her routines, we got along perfectly.
Autumn’s quirks used to bother me. Like how she would love a certain toy one day and utterly shun it the next; or how in her mind turkey, chicken, and beef are all manna from Heaven, but salmon is the poison that killed Socrates. These things used to annoy me, but now I just look at them as part of her charm. She certainly keeps things interesting!
These days, I am quite the crazy cat lady. My life has been adjusted to fit Autumn’s. This might sound weird to some, but Autumn has made my life so much better in so many ways. She inspires me with ideas for this blog; her purring relaxes me; she makes me laugh with her playful antics. If all she asks in return is a stable routine, I’ll gladly do it!
And there you have it: how Autumn went from a beggar to a benevolent dictator.
Thanks for reading this long post, dear reader, and I hope to see you here again next week. So until then, stay fuzzy, my friends. And ALL HAIL THE QUEEN!