Look very closely at that picture, and you might be able to figure out that one of the animals lying on that couch is very real.
I know, it's hard to tell which...they all look so cute, don't they?
Four of those things are Jelly's stuffed animals, and one is my real life animal: Katniss.
Katniss is my cat. An animal I never thought I would own, because I'm a dog person. Cat's are typically boring, lazy, and have hardly any personality. Dogs are energetic, playful, loving, and loyal.
But somehow, some way, I was able to find a cat that's more like a dog. I kid you not!
Let's backtrack a little....
The year after I graduated from college was a tough year for me. I graduated in May, 2011 and expected to start my hard earned career as a teacher. But that didn't happen. I couldn't find a teaching job. No matter how hard I looked, how many interviews I tried to get...nada.
So, I found a job as a teaching assistant. And life was tough. Really tough. My salary for that year was $13,500 GROSS. So, to say that money was tight was an understatement.
Throw in a house that was falling apart left, right, and center. Kids that needed new clothes constantly, because they were growing like weeds. And Hubby's truck that he used to drive to work, basically bit the dust. Oh, and my dog. Who had epilepsy, and had recently gotten fixed and after doing so totally forgot what "house trained" meant, and started using the house as her own personal toilet.
I loved that little dog. I really did. I'd had her since she was 8 weeks old, and she was then approaching five years old. But, with all the problems we were going through, and the added stress of having a dog with medical problems and hygiene issues, I made the very tough decision to let her go. I found her a family that had the means to take care of her, and so we said our goodbyes. It was an extremely tough decision for me to make, but one that had to be made.
And it was at that point that I made a pact with myself that I would not get another dog. Period.
Like we've done many times over, we made it through that tough year. The school year was coming to an end and my job hunt began, once again. This time, though, I was able to secure a job.
I was hired in May of 2012. I realized that my life was going to start turning around. Life would be better.
That summer, I had agreed to help my parents out who were taking a vacation to England. Being that they were foster parents, they needed someone to take care of their foster kids while they were away. I was asked to be that person. And I had to do so by moving in to their house for a month, as the foster kids weren't allowed to come to my house due to crossing state lines and such. Not that I would have wanted them staying in my house at the time.
So, I didn't get any time to celebrate getting my new job. I got the job, and the next day I was driving to my parent's house to move in for a month.
The first week was OK, but I was lonely. Hubby couldn't go with me because he had to work. I was in the middle of nowhere with my three children, and three foster children. Taking care of six children, by myself, was a big strain on me.
Then, one day about a week in, I made a run to Walmart. In the parking lot was a guy who had kittens he was giving away. The kids asked if we could stop and look at them. I did, and let the kids out so they could pet them. I had absolutely NO intention of getting a kitten. I didn't like cats.
As the kids played with the six black and white kittens that were in the box, I noticed a white kitten all by herself. She was sitting there, looking at the kids as they petted the other kittens. She looked like a big ball of fur. Well, she looked like this...
Even though I didn't like cats, I had to admit that she was absolutely adorable. She was so timid, but when I reached out my hand...she came straight to me.
The minute I picked her up, I realized that I had to have her. I forgot all about not liking cats. I forgot all about how I had promised myself that I wasn't going to have any more animals for a while, because I was still grieving over letting my dog go. I just held her in my arms and knew that she had to come home with me.
Despite the fact that I knew my mother would go nuts when she found out I brought a kitten in to the house, I took her back to my parent's house with me. I named her Katniss on the drive back. No other reason except I had recently read all of the Hunger Games books and thought it would be a cute name. And, in all honestly, Katniss was my saving grace that got me through the very tough remaining weeks at my parents' house.
I considered her my way of celebrating my new job. A gift for myself. A new start on life. I may not have been a fan of cats, but new changes were coming my way...and I figured that getting a cat would be another way of embracing those changes.
And, from the moment I got her home, I knew that Katniss would not be like any other cat I'd interacted with before. She followed me around. She snuggled with me in bed. She played with the toys I bought her. She would push herself under my hand anytime I stopped petting her.
None of that has changed.
Now, she's much bigger, of course. But, she has remained a playful, loving, loyal companion.
She follows me around the house. When I take my coffee and iPad out on the patio, she sits at the patio doors waiting for me to go back inside. She sits on my desk when I'm working. She snuggles with me on my chair in the living room while I'm watching TV. She follows me to bed at night and curls up under my arm. Every morning, when I wake up, she's the first thing I see. She leads the way in to the kitchen and waits by the coffee maker, because she knows that the minute I get my coffee started I'll be feeding her.
She is also such a good family pet. She lets Jelly carry her around as if she really were one of her stuffed animals. She never hisses or pulls her claws out. If I'm busy around the house, I can often find Katniss in one of the kids' rooms keeping them company. And, Hubby also adores her. Which is a very big deal, because Hubby LOATHED my dog.
I still wouldn't consider myself a cat person. In fact, we actually got her a couple of playmates at one point because we thought she was getting lonely by herself during the day. That didn't work out AT ALL. The other cats got in to stuff, scratched the furniture, and drove us nuts. They didn't last very long... and we just went back to just having Katniss.
I absolutely adore her. And I owe her so much. She has been a loyal companion to me since getting her.
After a rough day at work, or when stuff isn't going my way, or when I just need some quiet time, I can always count on her to be right there. Snuggling my cares away.
And to have such an amazing, thoughtful, loving animal is something to be very thankful for.