I’ve been married to the same wonderful man for almost 17 years. Around our house, we refer to him as The Tall Guy. “We” being the cats and me. That’s how they sign their cards to him. Our cats were strays and they’re still independent in nature. Although I’d love to think they think of us as Mommy and Daddy, I’m pretty sure they see us solely as the two-legged creatures who appear to dole out the food.
We were married for six years before we had cats. Looking back, all I can think is, “What on earth did we do with all our time?” (I know what we’re doing with it now: Fighting a losing battle against cat hair.)
But there have been other changes since welcoming cats into our home, many I’m sure most pet lovers can relate to.
Change #1: The bed is no longer ours. We cling to mattress edges in order to make room for a cat that prefers to lie diagonally across the bed. We’ve also been known to lie motionless for hours in leg-cramping positions so as not to awaken a sleeping feline.
Change #2: We hold conversations for the cats. I’ll do the voice of one cat and my husband will imitate the voice for the other. (He deadpans a great “You-people-bore-me” cat voice.) As cat #1, I’ll ask cat #2 what she’s thinking. My husband will reply in a high-pitched voice, “Just wondering where I can bury the bodies after I kill these people tonight.” Or he’ll be cleaning the litter box with a cat standing beside him, observing, and he’ll mimic, “Dude! Hurry up. I have to leave a stinky.”
Note: We never held conversations like these before we had cats.
Change #3: We now have ammo in the war against friends with kids. They whip out an iPhone full of photos of their kids; I whip out an iPhone full of photos of my cats. Hey—they started it.
Change #4: We fight over if/when we take vacations. My husband likes to take 10-12 day trips. I freak over leaving the cats alone that long. We hired a pet sitter, but I insisted on setting up a nanny-cam and obsessively reviewing the tapes once we got home. It’s hard to be romantic when you’re bickering away in Paris over whether one of you is a cold-hearted bastard for taking you away from your babies for so long.
Change #5: We now spend an inordinate—some would say obscene—amount of money at pet stores. Food, litter, cotton mice, cat carriers, nail clippers, cotton mice, flea combs, more cotton mice, cat toothpaste (never opened), scratch mats, blankets, pill pockets…
Unless cotton mice become the new gold standard, we may never retire.
Change #6: There is more love in our home and our hearts than we’ve ever had before. My husband—who didn’t grow up with pets and argued against bringing cats into the house—now keeps a jar of Greenies by the door to share with neighborhood cats who line up each morning to greet him as he leaves the house. I find a few minutes spent combing a purring cat is more than enough to turn around any bad day. And watching each other so freely bestow love on the two furry creatures who stole our hearts has only deepened the love and commitment we feel for one another.
That Tall Guy—he’s a keeper.
Dena Harris is the author of several books on cats, including the newly released, Who Moved My Mouse? A Self-Help Book for Cats. She is constantly trying to figure out how to slip a third cat into the house without her husband, aka “The Tall Guy”, noticing.