I grew up with pets, mostly dogs but a few cats. However, none of my animals were allowed to stay in the house, except for brief periods when it was snowing or during a thunderstorm if the dog was frightened. Mother felt strongly that animals in the house were dirty and unsanitary.
I don’t know if this came from her childhood or her mother, Mama, who had a reputation as a strict taskmaster. I do know that Papa, Mother’s father, had well-loved coonhounds–but of course hunting dogs never came in the house. So none of my pets were house pets. When I was in high school, my dog, Dusty, and my cat, Tom, waged a concerted campaign to come in, but to no avail. So Dusty dug a hole under my bedroom window to sleep in, and Tom slept on the windowsill. No doubt they wanted to sleep on my bed.
I never had an indoor cat until I moved to Atlanta. I walked through an ASPCA adoption event at Cumberland Mall to look at the puppies, knowing I wouldn’t take one to live in my apartment. A group of kids were clustered around one cage, holding their hands to the wire mesh. I went over to look. A thin brindled calico cat was rubbing her face against their hands. She went home with me and was my closest friend for 16 years. She slept curled up in the curve of my stomach every night and moved to New York with me, sleeping on the front seat of the car through the whole long drive.
I’ve had other cats since then, calicos, tabbies, black cats. Each one had a different personality, playful, grumpy, affectionate, noisy, bossy. But every one had a distinct point of view and was sure its opinion was as important as mine. That’s why I like cats. They are not eager to please, and they preserve their independence. When a cat loves you, it means something.