How I Became a Cat Person


It happened. I adopted a cat.

For three decades, my home has been filled with big, slobbery, goofy dogs and suddenly – slam on the breaks – I found myself driving home with a cat in a carrier in the back seat.

I am not trying to say I was in some sort of blackout and discovered this random cat in the back seat when I “came to.” I am a journalist and was out shooting a story at the Humane Society of Genesee County when it happened.

My interview was set up in the “cat room” and, there she was: this big, black cat the shelter staff had named Darlene.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been taken with, and even held cats while visiting the shelter plenty of times in the past.

This was different. Darlene “spoke” to me.

No, I did not actually hear her say words; but she did this little chirpy thing and purred when I held her.

“This cat really digs me!” I concluded.

She was cuddly and sweet and looked like a little panther. I was instantly smitten. The name the shelter had given her had to be a sign, too. I had a dear friend named Darlene who passed away. Surely, she must have been sending me a signal.

“This is meant to be!” I decided.

Of course, these words often run through my mind when I am doing something impulsive, but this time was different. I swear.

I asked Lin Holmes, the dedicated shelter staffer I was interviewing, if I could adopt this wonderful, mysterious, chirping creature.

“Sure,” she said.

Ironically, I was interviewing Lin about the new pandemic-induced adoption procedures at the HSGC. If you want to adopt, you have to look at the animals online, find one you like, and then make an appointment to meet him or her.

Their schedule was booked, but I was able to return two days later and formally adopt the cat we now call Ellie. On the way home, I played reggae music in the car, because I read somewhere that cats like reggae music. She was pretty calm during the ride.

In the two days I had to wait to adopt Ellie, I did a lot of reading about cats and shopping for cat things. I set up a cat room with one of those tree things they can climb and scratch on, toys, a bed and a little teepee. Okay, so maybe I got carried away, but even with all of that stuff to entertain her, the first thing Ellie did when I let her out of her crate was jump on my lap and chirp.

A cat being affectionate? These creatures had always been so mysterious to me.

Whenever I held a cat, I could almost hear it telling me I needed to read Co-dependent No More, because I am so needy for animal affection. Turns out, cats need love – just like the rest of us.

I cannot imagine how this sweet girl ended up in a shelter, but she had been there since January when I got her in June. Apparently, black cats have a tough time getting adopted in shelters, in part, because of all of the myths about them.

All I can say is I am glad that fate, or whatever it was, stepped in and gave me a new best friend.


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