Anyone who claims that an animal cannot love does not deserve the love of an animal.
My cat-daughter and I have a relationship that goes beyond master/pet, human/animal, mother/daughter... it is a visceral dance of souls that I can hardly comprehend and hold dear.
How we came together is a convoluted story, but suffice it to say that I was invited by the good folks at the humane society to meet their 'mascot' because I was not bothered by black cats. If a certain amount of affinity between us could be witnessed by as many staff members as possible, I might be allowed to take her home. Otherwise, I would have to wait until they got in more cats. They invited me me to see her to appease me, but they were certain that she was going nowhere seeing as she wasn't (and still isn't, for that matter) too sociable.
She was standing on a window ledge, looking out at the snow, when I came in. I gently whispered her name (which changed promptly upon adoption) and she turned to see who owned the strange voice and... jumped into my arms.
An hour later, she was home with me.
That was almost six and a half years ago.
We were always close, but our relationship changed somewhat when I brought home her brother. She became more distant and I found it very difficult to balance the love that came naturally for her and that which came through duty for him. I consider her my 'planned pregnancy' and her brother my 'accidental pregnancy.'
At any rate, her brother died suddenly just after Yule last year and I have to admit that I was grateful that if I had to lose one, it was him, not her. I love him and miss him, but our relationship was only beginning to blossom in the weeks preceding his death.
Since then, my cat-daughter and I have experienced a renewal of our bond. I'm home so little these days and she must be lonely. When I am home, we spend hardly a moment apart. She's a snuggler and loves it when I hold her against my bosom, her paws and chin resting on my shoulder, her little body pressed as tightly as possible against mine. At night, we sleep close. Usually, she's on her pillow next to mine, with my face buried in her sweet smelling fur. Then there are the nights like yesterday when she sleeps at my feet, a few inches away, with just one paw resting on me to remind me that she's there.
Oh, I love her. I love her so very much. I've been accused of being abnormal for holding a cat in my highest affection, but she has earned that right. She loves me as much as I love her, of that there is no doubt in my mind, or even in that of those few who have seen us together.
We understand each other well, I recognizing her various meows, she recognizing the things I say most often to her. It is that way when you live so closely with another soul and spending so much time together.
There was another cat before her with whom I had such a relationship, and her death was a cruel blow. I truly doubt I'll have another after; I need to learn to build such a bond with people.
But for now, we have days ahead of us, years I hope, for she is still spry at age eight, and for all the sacrifices I've had to make for being her mom, all the lost job opportunities because she couldn't have come with me, I cannot resent her. I made the decision to accept her choice of choosing me as her human mother and it is a decision I honour, no matter how much it costs me. The rewards are richer than any lost opportunities.
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."