Feline Power

My long journey as a cat lady began in childhood when I had a black-and-white cat named Muff, who later had four kittens. I named all of them Blanket because they were born in the blanket box. Cleo, our border collie, licked them dry. It was amazing, and funny, for me to see as a little girl.

Eventually our family had no more cats. My Aunt Mimi thought cats were destructive, scratching the furniture.

I am older now and still consider cats to be a woman’s best friend. I suffer from depression and wish I had, at least temporarily, a kitty. I would love to have the comfort of a cat. The building I live in allows cats, but because I am not able to travel easily, getting to a vet’s appointment, for example, might be harder for me than it is for other people. I also have a small apartment, which I think would make a cat as confined as I feel sometimes.

Disability advocates are working with me to get a union job working 18 hours a week, and that will hopefully help me become independent enough to have a house of my own. I also hope that transportation services like Uber and Lyft will be more accessible to people with disabilities. Since it is very difficult for me to use a computer or smartphone, those services are less accessible to me — I need things to be far more voice activated. I have talked with Minnesota legislators about this need for some people with disabilities.

I love that cats are able to be fiercely independent, with nothing and no one controlling what they can and cannot do. It can be so frustrating to be a disabled woman. Not so for a cat.

I also like the fact that cats have been revered by many cultures, with ties to Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Norse, Semitic, and Hindu histories.

Kittens can get into trouble because they are rebellious and curious, and simply have their own way of doing things. I relate to that.

Sometimes I get to interact with cats randomly. In my younger days, I was waiting for a bus to take me to a protest asking for the release of Leonard Peltier, an indigenous activist who has been imprisoned for more than 46 years despite allegations of false evidence. There was a cat near the bus stop that kept me company while I was waiting. I still think fondly of that little gray cat.

For about a year I volunteered at the Feline Rescue in Saint Paul, until they became more professionalized with paid daily workers. I wanted that kind of job, but during orientation it was determined that I wouldn’t be a good fit because I would have trouble feeding them medication.

As a volunteer, I cleaned litter boxes and kennels, fed the cats, changed their water, and played with them. I would take the time to read each cat’s name and to learn about their personalities. Sometimes there were a few cats who had been traumatized in their life and would bite if you weren’t careful. I relate to that too. I can get angry when I feel like my needs are not listened to.

At the rescue center, there were so many lovable cats. And there was humor. It has been six years since I was able to work there, but I still remember an incredibly cute picture of two cats playing with a roll of toilet paper with a caption that said, “Let the good times roll.”

Feline Rescue is one of many shelters that relies on volunteers to provide care for cats at its adoption center. It provides shelter and in-house veterinary care for domestic cats in need of compassionate care and adoption placement. Find cats who are looking for forever homes at felinerescue.org and facebook.com/felinerescueinc

Beth Blick (she/her) wrote a column in February 2022 about state legislation needed for the disabled community. She is a peace and human rights advocate who launched Able Media in 2019. ablemediamn.com

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