Friday, June 4, 2021

Insight: National Hug Your Cat Day

 By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

According to my wife’s “Every Day’s a Holiday” calendar hanging by her desk, today, June 4, is “National Hug Your Cat Day.”

I had never heard of this annual celebration until this year but apparently this is a movement that’s been growing stronger with each passing year.

It wasn’t until I was in high school that our family obtained our first cat and through the decades since, I’ve owned a few cats as pets and came to love the ones I had.

Benson was a tabby kitty that I got from a friend while I was stationed in the Air Force in Germany in the late 1970s. Despite destroying the arms of a newly purchased sofa and loveseat with his claws and spraying important documents and papers from the Air Force, I accepted his territorial manner and he sort of tolerated me. He lived a long life and even flew in a crate in a passenger seat on a transcontinental flight from Frankfurt, Germany to the United States.

Gracie was almost abandoned as a young cat during a hurricane. While working at a newspaper in Florida, a woman in advertising was in the lunchroom talking to her friends about taking the cat to the shelter and flying to another state as a hurricane bore down on the area where we were living. She had purchased the cat as a companion for her husband as he was dying of cancer and following his death, she had no further use for the cat and wanted to move out of Florida.

I offered to take the cat and to give it a good home and she agreed. Less than four months later, I met my wife Nancy, and it was a challenge when we moved in together as she had a dog who liked to chase cats. Gracie stayed upstairs in a townhouse we were renting, while Hunter, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi stayed downstairs with a baby gate stretched across the stairs to separate the two pets.

Not long thereafter, Gracie was diagnosed by the veterinarian with bladder stones and needed an operation. Fortunately for us, our veterinarian allowed us to make payments on the expensive surgery needed to save the cat’s life and she pulled through that with flying colors.

As a result of her bladder having to be completely rebuilt, Gracie was placed on a special and expensive diet for the rest of her life. My wife and I never complained about that because she was so gentle and loving to us.

Gracie had been severely frightened as a kitten by a dog who had chased her, but she was curious about Hunter and would sometimes sit on the staircase to provoke him knowing the gate was up and he couldn’t reach her.

One time Hunter jumped over the gate and chased Gracie upstairs. When I arrived home from work and went looking for them, I found Gracie sitting peacefully on top of a tall bedroom dresser purring while Hunter had chased her under the bed and had become wedged there until I lifted the mattress off him.

The next corgi we owned, Abby, also required separation from Gracie, as she growled if she caught a glimpse of her. They never became friends, even though they both rode in the back seat together in crates all the way from Florida to New Hampshire when we moved.

When Abby passed, we were lucky to obtain a new puppy, Fancy, who is a rescue lab-mix. Slowly, my wife introduced Fancy to Gracie, and the two of them became familiar. When we moved from New Hampshire to Maine, Gracie rode in a crate in the cab of the moving truck with me while Fancy rode in the car with my wife.

Gracie’s health deteriorated after that move, and she had reached the point that she didn’t care about being separated from Fancy anymore. One of the best memories we have is of the two of them sitting together comfortably in a living room chair, or as my wife called it, “the lion sitting down with the lamb.”  

About two weeks following Gracie’s 16th birthday she passed away in September 2017 and I still feel her loss nearly every day. We had her for about 15 years, and she was a remarkable companion.

Cats aren’t for everyone. As I have learned, there are no ordinary cats, they have personalities and can be aloof at times, but are also generous with their love. Happy “National Hug Your Cat Day.” <

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