The Friendship of Felines:

Emelie - Fort Ann, New York
Entered on August 6, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

The Friendship of Felines:

Many people have supported and encouraged me during my life, but none so much as my friend Dale. I lied. Well, sort of. He is my friend, but to be totally truthful, Dale is not a person, but is much more primal, instinctive, and animalistic. He is my tortoiseshell kitty cat and, more importantly, he is my best friend. He has always consistently been there for me, even when my family and friends are not. I believe in cats.

Imagine returning home from a long, tedious day at work, knowing that as soon as your car pulls in the driveway there is someone who is going to greet you at the door, dash between your ankles, and lavish kisses, fur, and love bites upon you. And then imagine that same someone is just waiting for you to sit down and (and maybe to beg a morsel of “human” food!) and then race to your chair when you sit down just to get their ears (and butt!) scratched. Cats just understand our feelings, and always do their best to make us feel better. When we are down, they know, and are always around to snuggle with or talk to.

A cat is someone to take care of, who depends on you every day to feed them, keep them clean, and give them the attention that they thrive on. There is always a benefit in knowing that someone or something depends on you for their well-being, as it gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose. In return, they give us their undying love, loyalty, and companionship. Anyone who befriends a cat will never go without someone to warm their feet as they sleep, and someone trustworthy to whisper their most deep and dark secrets to. It is impossible for a cat to tell your secrets, or betray your dreams, as they cannot put those thoughts into a context that other humans understand. They teach responsibility, loyalty, and friendship just by being in their company. By presenting us with an undying version of loyalty and friendship, they give us a standard to follow when we use these qualities.

In my life, I have discovered that cats seem to have a sort of “sixth sense”. They are able to tell exactly what kind of mood that you are in just by sensing your presence, or hearing your voice. I have had a personal experience with this unusual ability. About a year ago, I was a victim of sexual harassment by someone whom I was very close with, and whom I believed was one of my best friends. This episode totally changed my life. I lost some of my very close “friends” over it and had to endure court trials, traumatic doctors’ visits, and large amounts of hatred, anger, sorrow and occasional bouts of depression. But I did not lose Dale.

During this time, Dale would not and did not leave my side. He would often become hysterical when I had to leave the house and would sit on the windowsill overlooking my driveway until I returned home. He would follow me around my house, and as soon as I sat down he would either be in my lap or next to my head. He got very upset when I could not pay attention to him, like when I was doing homework or other chores and would often voice protest with a loud yowl. When I became depressed he was there for me, as he will always be, ready for a game of chase the string, or to stand in as my own personal, reusable, furry tissue.

On my good days when I get home ready to explode with energy and happiness, Dale is always waiting to attack my heels as I race my way to my room, just to direct some of my vitality on to himself, particularly on his ears and back. He knows me and knows my habits. For example, at night, when I go into my bathroom and turn on the sink to brush my teeth, he will stand on the counter watching me because I always give him a taste of the toothpaste when I finish. After that, he knows that if he can beat me into my bedroom and sit in my spot on my bed, then I always have to go through the process of removing him before I get into bed, usually causing him to get a before bed rubdown. This is something that is therapeutic for both of us, as this is when I usually do most of my talking, and he gets a good petting.

While I know that life is finite, and that it can and may end at any second, I know that I have lived a life full of love, loyalty, friendship, and devotion. To have lived a small portion of my life with such a compassionate being has encouraged me to follow in his paw prints, and I will continue to do so long after he has left this world. In all, this small, furry, whiskered being has changed my life and continues to do so every day.

Emelie Harris