I was raised my whole life to be afraid of cats.
My mother says she is allergic to them. That may be true - she is, after all, allergic to most things on Earth. She also thinks that cats are not trustworthy, and potentially vengeful. Yeah, what's her point?
Bob was terrified of them. Once, a few years back, a stray cat had taken to sleeping inside the hood of his car to keep warm in the winter. Everytime he needed to use the car, he asked my cousin to go with him to the parking lot to make sure the cat was not around so he could drive off.
Of course, Hemasida tows the party line and repeats whatever my mom preaches.
For the first 25 years of my life, I concurred with them.
Then, I met the Misty cat. For a while, things were no different with her than they had been with any other cat I had ever encountered. She was terrifying to me, and I kid you not, she actually had a reputation of being somewhat "difficult" and "a biter."
But as I have gotten to know Misty, a mutual understanding has developed between us. We have common interests, primarily that is keeping the Capital Region's premier environmentalist happy. And neither of us care for mice. This last point has actually gotten me to think that it is really odd that my mother and sister do not like cats because they are both terrified of mice, too.
Over time, Misty and I have upgraded our relationship from one of mutual understanding to shared affection. I think about her when it's been a while since I've seen her. I feel self-conscious when she acts distant - thinking perhaps that I have done something to alienate her. I try very hard to avoid situations where I would need to scold her so that she won't resent me. And playing with her is genuinely entertaining.
I grew up never really having a pet. Of course, there were the mandatory gold fish, and a bird in Argentina - but those pets don't count. Now that I am living in my own place, I wonder eventually about the prospect of a having "real" pet. With my unusual work hours from January to June to August to November to December, it may be difficult to care for a dog on my own. A cat, on the other hand, is a much more independent pet, and would be good company after a long day at work. Plus, dogs are not allowed in my building.
The evolution of my position on cats has been a matter of some discussion within my family. My mother and sister are somewhat perplexed on my change of heart. My position remains, however, that my previous opinions about cats had been developed in a vaccum. I had never had the chance to become close to a cat before, and therefore had never appreciated what they add to the human-pet relationship.
It is normal for one to change their mind on preferences like this. A year ago, I had never eaten sushi - now it's one of my preferred meals. I never liked Seinfeld until I saw the end of the Soup Nazi episode while I was waiting for another show to come on.
The fact is that being a static human being is no fun. What would be the point of trying anything new if you were expected to never change your preferences? Is being open-minded only good when you agree with whatever the person is being open-minded about? No! Change? Good. Trying new things? Good. Learning to like something you did not like before? Good - except for things like learning to like smoking crack cocaine. That would not be good. But, learning to like cats? Good!
So, what would the future hold should my mother and sister be confronted with a cat in my home? Of course I would never demand that they feel the same way I do about the cat. I would, however, expect that they respect my feelings towards it.
After all, wouldn't that be change we can believe in?