Before we had Roxy, we were cat people. We brought a cat with us from the Midwest when we moved to California, and there has been only one catless period in our lives since, during the three years when we lived in a house too close to the Angeles National Forest to keep our cats from becoming dinner for coyotes.
I know there are people who really, really don't like cats - usually because they're either allergic to them (and who can love an animal that makes your eyes swell and your sinuses clog?), or they don't understand them. For the cat haters out there, here's the key to understanding: cats aren't sneaky, they're a unique combination of predator and prey. There aren't a lot of animals in that class, but imagine the caution that drives a prey animal (think deer) and the grace and precision of a predator (think wolf). Roll those personalities together, wrap them in silky fur, decorate them with a throaty purr, and you've got a cat.
Then there are people who don't like cats because they catch birds. I really don't know what to say to that. My cats have all been in-and-out cats. They've caught some birds, some mice, some rats, some lizards, some grasshoppers, and the occasional moth in their time. It's in their nature and it doesn't bother me, because, as my mother (and probably yours) used to say: I didn't make the world. I just live in it.
So. Here's our list so far:
Alice came with us from Iowa. She was white with big splotches of pastel orange. She was absolutely trusting - when she had her (only) litter, during a cold Iowa winter, she stacked them (so new they were still blind and trembly) on my stomach one night to keep them warm.
Alice was succeeded by Susie and Sheila. Susie sported orange and black polka dots on a field of white. She was our dumbest cat ever, a little nut who liked to nibble on your fingers or your buttons or your shirt or whatever she could get her mouth on. We tried to get her to stop by gently rapping her on the head but she would just put her ears back and go on chewing. Sheila was a gray tabby with a white belly who didn't need anyone to pet her; she'd wriggle the length of her body under any convenient hand over and over again, petting herself.
For a very short time - measured in months, I think - Susie and Sheila shared the house with a half-wild silvery-gray tabby named Max. He learned to tolerate us and even seemed to enjoy being petted on occasion, but when we bought a new house, the change proved too much for him. On moving day, as we brought the cats in, Max streaked out the back door and down the driveway to the street where he turned left and trotted away, never to be seen again.
Next came Daisy and Gizmo. Daisy was an extravagantly pretty calico with half-a-black-mustache splashed on her face. She had a bad habit of napping in cars parked on our street with their windows down. One day she disappeared, and we always suspected that she accidentally hitched a ride to a new life in one of those cars. Gizmo was a tortoiseshell, black with swirls and flecks of brown and white. She liked to flop down on her side and sleep in the sun. When Eldest Daughter put up a picture of a sleeping Giz in her college dorm room, her friends nicknamed her the roadkill cat.
Eventually Giz went to her reward and was replaced by a giant brown tabby named Ratty. He got the name because he was such a sad, ratty-looking thing when we first brought him home; he grew to be a big, lazy lap-cat who purred like an engine and drooled when he was petted. He liked to sleep inside Middle Kid's shirt - with MK still in it - both heads poking out the neck so they looked like some kind of weird two-headed monster.
Ratty was joined by a companion cat, Cleo, an eleven-year-old black female who had briefly shared an apartment with ED. Cleo was sweet as she could be, but she had such terrible breath that Tom built a cathouse (I know, I know) for her on the deck. (And yes, Phoebe, we took her to the vet. He said her teeth had so much plaque that the only way to clean them would be to anesthetize her, and at her age, it was too risky.) Cleo and Ratty liked to bat at each other through the french doors that separate the deck from the rest of the house. When Cleo died at the ripe old age of fourteen, Ratty sat by the door for days, waiting for her to come back.
After Ratty we took in two kittens - Mia, a brown tabby, and Amelie, a gray-brown tabby with a white belly and legs. Mia never lost her kitten voice and, at seven, still mews as though she were two months old. MK borrowed her one day and never gave her back, so now she lives in Irvine and imagines she's at home there. Amelie is shy and skittish. The only person who can get her to come reliably is Youngest Daughter, although I've found that if I pour food in her bowl she'll hear me from wherever she is in the world, and will be waiting at the door when I go to look for her. It's poor, nervous Amelie who's had to learn to deal with Roxy; she's done it, but she still lets us know it wasn't her choice.
I have no idea who our next cat will be. If I could, I'd take one of my dear-departeds back. But the world doesn't work that way, (see above), so all I can say for sure is that there will be another cat, and it will be as individual as its predecessors.