Last month marked a year since I brought home Zadie, my 10-year-old orange tabby cat. Until I adopted her, I had always considered myself to be exclusively a dog person, especially as I grew up with my family’s sweet and rambunctious West Highland Terriers. In the years since leaving home, I have missed the companionship provided by having a pet around, but as my apartment won’t allow dogs, a feline friend was essentially my only option.
I first saw a picture of Zadie, then named Eliza (which I decided was way too close to my name to keep) on Feline Rescue’s website. They described her as a shy but sweet “older lady,” who was curious about the world and slowly coming out of her shell. I was charmed and immediately arranged a visit to her foster home. She hid under a bed from me most of the time, but eventually ventured out to nibble the treats I tossed her way. I don’t know what about that minimal interaction convinced me that this was the cat for me, but I’m glad that is what I decided nevertheless.
My early days with Zadie were exciting for me, but must have been overwhelming for her. I barely saw her for the first few days, as she mostly hid underneath a bookshelf in the room where I kept her food and water. I worried that we were never going to truly bond, but a friend, who is a self-professed cat whisperer, told me to be patient and that she would warm up to me in time. He turned out to be right.
Two days after I brought Zadie home, I returned home after dinner with a friend and decided to check on her before going to bed. I was surprised to see her out from underneath the bookshelf, casually lounging on my desk, intently watching the birds and squirrels out the window. I approached her cautiously, not wanting to scare her back into her hiding spot. She sniffed and licked my hand, and then nuzzled her head against it, essentially forcing me to pet her. I was thrilled—and immediately sent photographic evidence of our bonding to my family and friends.
It is funny to think of Zadie as once being shy around me, because now when I’m home, we are more or less inseparable. She greets me at the door when I return from work each evening, follows me around the house (including the bathroom), sleeps curled up at the foot of my bed each night and, in what is probably simultaneously her most annoying and endearing habit, wakes me up in the morning by headbutting me until I get up and feed her breakfast. She is still cautious around new people, but she warms up to them more quickly now, and on a recent visit to her cat doctor, the veterinarian told me that she seems much happier and healthier than she did on her previous visit. I think I am happier with her, too.
I am grateful for the company and the joy Zadie has brought me over the last year, and I think tough times—the end of a relationship, my grandmother’s death, a very cold and prolonged winter—would have been much harder without her. I still love dogs, but I’ve come around to cats, who are much more fun and affectionate than I ever would have imagined. And, even if I will continue being more enthusiastic about our anniversaries than she will, I am looking forward to many more years with sweet Zadie.
Elizabeth Callen is a staff writer and reporter for the Lowdown. She can be reached at 651-407-1229 or email@example.com.