My first cat.
I have always been a dog person. Maybe I was born that way. Maybe it’s the stories my grandfather had told me — it was pretty much the same story he would tell, where the dog always caught the spy trying to get into the country, or the dog always caught the saboteur trying to blow up a factory — dog as hero to “The Motherland.” When I was very little, people would ask me if I wanted a brother or a sister. I would always answer, “I want a dog.”
Besides, I knew dogs. People we knew had dogs. No one I knew growing up had a cat. I didn’t dislike them. I was simply ignorant in the ways of the cats.
The very first cat I have met was named Simon, he was an old, long-haired Siamese, a pet of my best friend in high school. I would pet Simon, who spent a great deal of time sleeping, or looking up sleepily with slightly crossed eyes. Once when Amy’s family went on vacation, she asked me to come over, feed the cat and just be with him. “If he’s not around, just lie down on the sofa, he’ll find you,” she told me.
I came over the first day, and laid down on the sofa. In a few minutes Simon jumped up on the sofa and gingerly made his way to my chest, where he settled, purring. I wouldn’t say I was converted, but I was incredibly charmed.
We got our first cat from a shelter in Sioux City, Iowa, where we were living at the time — Amy (my husband’s sister/best friend from high school) was with us when we went to pick out a kitten. She thrust the only grey kitten of the shelter into my arms, where he purred so loudly, his whole little body vibrated. It was love at first purr.
We named him Asa Gray. A bit of a history lesson: Asa Gray was an American botanist who worked with Charles Darwin on the theory of evolution, using plants in his experiments. As an extra coincidence, once we moved to Colorado, we discovered that there is a mountain in the Rockies called Gray’s Peak, also named after the same botanist, stemming from his visit to this state. My husband loved the name ‘Asa Gray’ even before the cat.
Asa Gray Tucker was a Russian Blue mix, with a lovely and silky grey coat, green eyes, and a slightly confused, friendly disposition that belied his rather stern look. He wasn’t the smartest cat in the litter, but he liked our company, and even hung…