I Didn’t Know I Would Become a Cat Owner

Seriously. I never thought I would become a cat owner when I was younger. And when I say younger, I mean literally three years ago.

Let me take you through my, what should I call it… “journey?” “progression?” “change of heart?”

Whatever you want to call it, I didn’t always have a pet cat, didn’t prefer cats, and at one point, didn’t like cats.

I’ve always been an animal lover, anything non-human was beautiful to me. My first dream job was travelling veterinarian, then astronaut, then, IDK Pokemon trainer or doctor or something, the third option changed all the time until it solidified in high school to artist. Not ONE of those things happened, but I prefer where I ended up anyway.

Speaking of anyway, my love of animals did stretch to cats.

I maaaaay or may not… have… uh…. stolen the next-door neighbor’s fluffy gray cat… and hid it in my plastic play kitchen set, back when I was 4.

I didn’t keep it long; for the amount of time I had it, I fed it Bologna slices and milk. The cat touched neither of those things. Thank goodness my mother discovered the cat in my room within the hour of me cat-napping it from the neighbor’s garden.

According to my mom, she heard it yowling, and opened the… uh… yeah I’m ashamed of this part–microwave. The cat shot out and ran down the stairs, Mom immediately recognized it was the neighbor’s and let it out the front door where it scurried back home safely. For years, I never told her how I managed to sneak it in the house.

I feel rather proud of how I did that, but of nothing else. I had this large 18-wheeler truck toy that had an attached cargo crate with working doors.

I… shoved the cat… inside that compartment…. Yep. And carried it into my house.

The poor creature avoided me for the rest of its days until the neighbors moved away. I don’t blame it one bit.

My father grounded me, of course, and told me we had no use for a cat as we were perfectly fine with our dog. I’ve had a dog for most of my life, mostly miniature Schnauzers, now I have a Corgi.

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Winnie!

Before my second Schnauzer and first Corgi, there was a stray kitten. She was sweet and tiny, and I worked with the other neighborhood kids to get her cat food. This was a couple years after the spiriting away of my neighbor’s cat; I had grown to respect animals, and thought better than to steal them since then. Well, for weeks, the other kids and I all made sure she was taken care of. One day, I found her laying in the shade of my mother’s minivan. I bent down to pet her, per the usual. She hissed and pounced at my face, scratching at my eyes, thankfully missing. She clung to my neck as I screamed and struggled. Eventually, she jumped off me and disappeared. I ran inside my home crying about the ordeal. I couldn’t understand why the kitten turned on me when I had given her so much. My mother determined that neighborhood boys had probably bullied her so she doesn’t trust humans anymore. I wasn’t the same towards cats for a few years.

At the age of 8, I met my second oldest friend, who owned many cats. My sisters and I spent many afternoons at her family’s house. At the time, I was afraid of the cats, but my friend showed me how I don’t have to fear them, but I can give them a wide berth. Our friendship stretched into middle school and junior high, where I befriended another proud cat owner. We bonded over art and joined an expensive after-school art academy. I would carpool with her and then spend some weekends with her at her house. She had three funny cats.

In the summer before 8th grade, my sisters, mother, and I, were about to take a trip to Oklahoma to visit family. The night before we left, we discovered a young orange male tabby cat. Not quite an adult, but not a kitten, and very sweet and curious. He had made his way into the garage, an easy feat for that time back when it was safe to keep your garage doors open! My sisters and I begged our mother to keep him. She said we couldn’t take him with us, but she left water and food for him outside. We left for a week on our trip.

When we arrived back home, the tabby was still hanging around the house. Mom went out and bought all the supplies for a cat, and he lived with us from then on. His name was Neko, from the Japanese word “cat”–I was obsessed, like my friends, with anime and Japanese culture. However, my extent of the language was very limited, and very flawed, so Neko was pronounced as “Nee-ko”. It suited him.

He was a wonderful addition to the family. He was very loyal to our home, kept squirrels and bugs at bay in our backyard, appeared at a call of his name, never swiped or clawed any of us or anything in our home, and loved belly rubs. I loved that cat, my friends loved that cat. He was strong and brave too. So brave, that he ventured out into the neighborhood alone without fear, and always returned. One day, my mother crossed the street to speak to one of our many neighbors, and Neko followed. A truck ran him over. My mother sobbed when telling us. He was buried in the side garden, my friends sobbed when I told them at school the next day, my art friend especially.

My mother went on to adopt two cats to fill the void. She brought home a tiny female calico kitten, and a large orange male tabby, named Sammy and Bruce, respectively. Bruce was not at all like Neko, and hated people. We gave him space. Sammy grew up to be a beautiful dainty cat. But then my mother moved away to Oklahoma suddenly, and took the cats with her. My sisters and I went to live with our father.

I grew up with my beloved miniature phantom-coat Schnauzer, Azmo. Cats were long forgotten for years except when we went to visit Mother. Sammy ended up having two kittens. This was… 10 years ago…! I had to think about it, I feel so old and yet I can remember like yesterday holding the two tiny babies in my hands and Sammy jumping on the screen door in a tizzy because she thought her kittens were in danger. The summer that we took care of the kittens was beautiful. The following year, we played with the now full grown cats, two females, one named Cali, a dark calico pattern, and Muffy, an orange tabby with white underbelly. The next year, Muffy passed away due to accidental poisoning. Cali still lives, she is an elderly lady, and still so graceful and courageous. Her mother, Sammy, jumped out the car between my mother’s many moves. The summer I spent playing with the year old cats was the the last summer I went to Oklahoma, and the last time I saw those cats.

I told myself for years since then, I prefer dogs. I didn’t have a problem with cats, I just liked the energy of dogs over other pets.

I wanted a partner who felt the same.

Along came Bo.

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This man sent me this when he was comforting Bowser, my heart just melts!

His online dating profile listed that he loved dogs, and owned a cat. There were many reasons I was drawn to this man, and the dog detail was one of them. He told me on one of our dates that he used to have a Husky but couldn’t keep it when he broke up with his last relationship. The dog deserved a yard, where his ex lived, and he had moved into a studio apartment. He immediately went to the Austin Pets Alive animal shelter and adopted Sakura.

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Sakura, who’s none too happy with meeting our Piplup that was rescued from a crane machine.

This cat… did not like me. At all. The first night I slept over at Bo’s place (how scandalous! Lol not), I stuck out my foot from under the covers for cooling. In the dead of night, she crept up on my unsuspecting foot, and chowed down on my big toe. Needless to say, I woke up shouting, not really out of pain, yeah it hurt, but more of I have a thing about things not touching my feet without my permission or awareness. So shouting ensued and Bo chased her around the apartment for a while.

I made an effort to try to win Sakura over. It took a few months, and a lot asking cat owners for advice. Their advice worked! Sakura loves me, and I love her. She’s the best lap buddy late at night on my days off when I need to stick to my overnight schedule.

In 2017, Bo and I decided Sakura needed a friend. She was restless and my cat owner friends said felines have better stimulation and activity with a companion animal. We adopted our kitten from my coworker who was fostering a huge litter of 7 kittens from the Austin Animal Shelter.

Bo and I were originally drawn to the runt of the litter, who was a female black cat like Sakura, who happened to also be the runt of her litter. But when we met Soot Sprite, she was extremely adventurous and exploratory, too high energy for laid-back and alpha-female stubborn Sakura. My coworker convinced us to adopt the only long-haired kitten, our baby boy, Bowser. He had a passive personality, but still played when encouraged.

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Bowser’s first day in his new home!

He was only as big as my hand when we got him, now he’s bigger than Sakura, even without fluff, and getting bigger! I told Bo that I always wanted a fluffy fat cat for sitting on my lap. Even as I type this post, both my cats are sleeping on my feet. They were fighting today, Bowser is getting more bold, but most days they enjoy each others’ company, and prefer to share their bed and couch together. Don’t worry, both are fixed, I’m not about to take up breeding responsibilities.

So, I guess, I’ve had a life with cats, and without cats. It wasn’t until I sat down and looked at my life that I was surprised with yet again an outcome I didn’t expect, much like my dream job not coinciding with my childhood dreams, but I feel things are better than I could’ve ever planned for.

I hope to one day, make a cool cat tree, a floating shelf, and a garden for them. Until then, I’ll keep cuddling and spoiling them to no end!

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Colored Hair: The Dilemma

Should I?

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Maybe not this ^ hairstyle per say, it is a bit too bold for me, but damn if I’m not super jealous when I see someone with colorful hair.

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For years I have debated whether or not I should dye my hair. As far back as 5th grade, I can recall drawing myself with a light green streak in my hair. In later years I drew myself with a full head of blue curly hair.

That was my early years: dreaming of colors and boldness and being unique, searching for my identity so that I could fit in. My second year of college, I chopped off a ton of my hair, straightened it into an asymmetrical bob that would make anime fans proud, and added a clip on blue hair extension that did not match the texture of my hair at all. I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea, but we all do dumb things when we are young.

I never got around to dying my hair for some reason. SO many friends were doing it. I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, but never did. Ah, peer pressure, you couldn’t keep up with my need for professionalism… and laziness.

I figure other reasons I never dyed my hair when I was young was because at the time of my high school years, the administration forbade unnatural hair colors, so that nixed high school. In college I was too busy with homework, working multiple jobs, and surviving various relationships; I barely had time to take care of myself let alone cared what I looked like.

At some point I was living on my own. I moved past the flurry and chaos of my first years of college, and decided to take time to focus on myself. Independence fostered, I began working at a job that paid the bills enough, and my managers at that job did not care if their employees had crazy colored hair. The desire to be bold came back.

That’s when the “mermaid” trend was introduced.

Welp, those are some of my favorite colors. So I looked into getting my hair done up like a damn turquoise fish lady.

I’m terrified of big commitments like that (which explains a lot of my life, but let’s not open that can of worms!!) I was mostly fearful of going to bright and it making my face redder than it already is. Some days are better than others, where the flush of my face isn’t so discernible.

To compromise with my fear, I thought, why not so bright, but go for a more muted or darker dye?

Perfect!

10-year-old Chelsea would be happy, adult Chelsea would be happy, colors all around!

And then I found out that no matter what, I would have to bleach my hair.

That prompted a very quick and very loud “NO!” while I smacked the chemicals out of the hair stylist’s hands. (That last part didn’t actually happen.)

So no awesome turquoise magic mermaid locks for Chell-bell.

I don’t like having long hair anyway. Too sweaty.

Years have passed since that time. I have “matured,” I guess… Well at least so far in hair care. I’m much more lax about styling my hair. I have embraced my wavy hair and prefer to not have to do a lot of maintenance. I hardly ever blow dry, never straighten, and maybe once in a while I’ll throw in some curl-boosting mousse. I don’t own a hair straightener, and have to borrow a hair dryer from my sisters if I care to blow-dry my hair; and I don’t care to blow-dry my hair.

I’m very lazy.

All this, and I still haven’t taken the plunge to dye my hair.

Despite this reality, I have made a pact to myself that when I’m old and gone silver-haired, I will become RAINBOW-HAIRED GRANNY and will be known throughout all the lands as the “eccentric” lady who uses a T-Rex grabber claw to menace and reach for soup, and frolic about the neighborhood with colorful locks on her head singing vintage Disney songs. I want to change my hair color whenever I want and I figured by that time, I’ll have a great base to do so. I’d just let my hair grow out a bit, close my eyes and pick a color at random, and tada! RAINBOW-HAIRED GRANNY. And when I want a new doo, I just shave it off to make room for a new hue.

This is a fact. It’s happening. You’ll see. In 40 to 50 years. Be on the lookout for Rainbow-Haired Granny, coming soon to your ‘hood.

In the meantime, the urge to dye my hair a crazy color still persists, with all the doubts ringing in my head as strong as ever.

Why not neutral or more natural colors though, Chelsea? Why go for color at all if you are so fearful?

Because, dear random person I made up in my head to talk to: if I’m going to dye my hair, causing unavoidable damage in the process–those chemicals fry your hair–as well as investing a lot of time and upkeep that requires special shampoos and touch-up treatments for fading and roots, then I might as well do something bold and daring to make me feel like the physical and fiscal torture was all worth it.

So I’ve found a middle-ground.

OIL SLICK HAIR

 

I’ve always wanted to go darker, maybe not black, but at least darker browns. Because I have a pink-toned face with some yellows, I know that if I go lighter, my face will look redder, which I do not like. I once stopped going to a particular hair stylist because they suggested I go blonde.

Never again. >:l

Darker sounds better because I believe that it will draw out a natural contrast with my light blue eyes. (Yes, I have really light blue eyes, go look at my About Me page for proof. That’s an untouched photo.) I’m not one to wear makeup as I have combination skin that feels like it’s drowning under a single layer of face mousse foundation, hence the desire to draw away from the days that I have a pinker face.

With oil slick hair, there is less emphasis on big areas of bright colors, so dying the hair requires less bleach. Less bleach means less damaged hair. The Tricoci University of Beauty Culture gave these pointers about oil slick hair dying, and it was definitely promising. (Be warned, their site has an automatic live chat function, I was not expecting that to pop up, but hey, it was first on the Google list and I can’t argue with credentials of beauty schools because I know nothing about them, whatevs.)

I like the idea that the base of an oil slick hair dye is the requirement for a cool brown or cool black. This will combat my warm-colored face! Also, cool colors recede while warm colors advance, that’s why reds, yellows, and oranges all pop out first in a picture, and why red cars get pulled over more often. Because we can see them. Fun fact: red is the first color we perceive after we are born, assuming the baby is not born with a diagnosis of protanomaly colorblindness.

If all else fails, I can just go for sectional hair color. The 10-year-old me from 5th grade, drawing herself with a stripe of green hair is a little more possible.

I really am going to do something, soon. Hopefully for my birthday. How often do we get to fulfill a childhood fantasy??