Tika, our cat. (Photo by: Ariel Pérez Díaz)

The story of how wrong I was about cats

I have been wrong many times, and made many mistakes in my life, but perhaps none of them have haunted me like saying “I don’t like cats, I’m a dog person”.

I always thought cats were arrogant and selfish animals, especially those that live in houses and have everything handed to them. I often thought to myself “I hate cats”, without ever even experiencing owning one.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the day we rescued our kitty Tika, and to honor her, I think it is worth it to tell how unexpected events and one cat in particular changed my views about all of them.

This love story begins at my parents house, where I used to live before moving to the United States with my fiancé Lauren, who is currently my wife. My parents live in a condo in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, consisting of three buildings of four floors each one, at the back of those apartments, a lot of cats have their own space. There are many in other houses and buildings that collide with the back of the condo. But only three white and yellow cats are allowed and recognized by the habitants of my parents condos, the other ones are outcasts.

One of those yellow cats is the mother of the other two. The three of them were spayed by a lady that used to live in one of the apartments and that often goes by and leaves food with the security personnel. The mother and her male son are very sociable, the other one is a female that runs when people gets too close; they often hangout around the entry of my parents building door. Mainly because there are some benches under a tree where the security guy sits and they like both the company and the shade.

At first, when I moved to my parents house I would see both of the cats there and go by without saying anything. Later on I realized that my mother fed them everyday at 5:00p.m. when she came back from work. One day she asked me to feed them, because she would be home late and didn’t want them to go hungry. So I went out to the back of the building and fed them. The mother and her son were very grateful and rubbed against me. The other one was what you would call a “scary-cat”, and ran away after she was finished.

The next day I was going to work, and the mother was again under the tree by the benches enjoying the shade and freshness of the morning. This time she stood up and came towards me, I stopped and slowly left my hand go so she would smell me, like if she was a dog. She didn’t even sniffed my hand, she ignored it and rubbed against my legs. At the same time she let go a quiet, almost like a whisper meow, and when I started petting her, she purred and gave me little bites of caress. I could’ve stayed more time giving her rub-rubs, but I had to go to work, so I left.

Misito eating one afternoon. (Photo by: My dad)

The same day in the afternoon she was back at the same place and when I got there she stood up and stretched; when I started walking towards her, she again meowed and purred when I touched her. In that moment I named her “Misito”, because in Cuba people call cats “misu, misu”, and she was smaller than both her son and daughter, so I figured Misito was very appropriate.

That’s when my view of cats started to change. She would always wait for me in the mornings, standing up from her nap in the mornings or the afternoons. Every time I would come back from work, you could see her running towards me, even if it was just to say “hello” and go back to hunting pigeons or chasing out other cats from the perimeter. I actually believed she already knew the sound of my car. Sometimes, when I went out for drinks or dinner and came back late, she would come out of her hiding and I would spend maybe 20–30 minutes petting her and talking to her. In other occasions she would go up the stairs and get in the house by the balcony, and then surprise me in the computer room with a rub and a small gentle meow. She would always be gentle and loving. Although, at the beginning this surprise incursions started to happen near 5:00p.m. in the afternoon, they could also happen Saturday mornings or Sundays.

Whenever I travelled out of the city or spent days away from my parents house, I not only missed the dogs, I missed her too. We built this relationship of love without even noticing, and we were both very happy with it. She was saying thanks for the food and the affection and I was touched by her gratitude and attention. That is how I came to understand that it is not true that cats are selfish and arrogant; they sure are independent, and they do have this swagger that makes them look arrogant. But in reality, they are cool and thankful animals. This next part of my story is what totally convinced me of it.

Tika the rescue

One night while my wife Lauren and I were walking to the park with our boy Zeus (a husky) near my parents house we heard some kitty crying. It was coming from an abandoned building that was part of a hospital. We both looked over a wall that separates the building from the sidewalk and saw the small kitty’s face coming out of a broken window. She was tiny and looked scared. Everything was dark, there was no light in the building, and it looked very spooky. My wife of course said “oh my God she is so cute, that is so sad, can’t we get her?” But, having Zeus with us it was going to be difficult. So I said, “lets go and finish our walk, and if she is still there when we are on our way back, we’ll get her ok?”

So we went on our walk and coming back to the house we looked over and the small kitty was still there crying. I gave the leash holding Zeus to my wife and went around the wall to get the kitty. Of course she wouldn’t let herself get caught, and she hissed, ran away from me and went into a water drain, ran under it and go back to her small hole in the window. Instead of chasing her, and making her waste more energy, and of course losing my breath, I decided it was better to come back with food.

To make the story short, she was starving, she came very slowly, but determined to eat something, as she started eating, you could hear some noises coming out of her, like whining's of pleasure, if that makes any sense. When she had eaten half of the food I grabbed her and we brought her to my parents house. The idea was to keep her a few days and then Lauren would taker her to Punta Cana and find her a home. We were not married yet and I lived with my parents and two dogs in Santo Domingo, where I had a job, and Lauren worked in a school in Punta Cana and lived alone. But instead of finding a home she had another idea, and after battling away her parasites and getting her the shots for rabies and other diseases, she decided to keep her. We named her Tika, because in Spanish we say “chiquitica”, which means “very small” or “little one”, and to this day I think it was the best decision she could ever make, because soon after Covid-19 hit, and that small little one gave my wife all the company, love and entertainment she needed.

She bites when she is feeling the uncontrollable love. (Photo by: Ariel Pérez Díaz)

Yet even though Lauren assumed the responsibility of taking care of her, and spent most of Tika’s life with her. This “little one” is as attached to me as she is to her. Now that we live in Green Bay, and I’m at the house, she often comes and jumps on my lap. She is not too much of a purring kitty, but in the mornings she always comes and gives me rub-rubs and some purrs. Unlike Misito, this one bites with a lot of passion, like she can’t control her excitement or emotions. But its ok, I know its her way of showing her love.

Tika’s personality is so different from Misito, of course age has a lot to do with that. She is playful and funny, and way more vocal with food demands. I think she shows her gratitude with everyone, especially those she live with. Everyone in the house gets some lap love every now and then, me most of all (sorry Lauren!). And I like to think that with me the relationship is different (sorry again!). Maybe because in her subconscious she knows I was the one who grabbed her and saved her from that awful dark place where we found her. I know Lauren doesn’t like me saying that, because in the end it was really her who saved her life. But I guess animals are instinctive thankful in their own way to everyone in their lives.

And that my friends, is the story of how I fell in love with cats, and now instead of saying “I love all my dogs”, I say, “I love all my pets”.

She loves the rub-rubs. (Photo by: Betty Honold)

Cuban-born-dominican-raised human, with a Bachelor in Science of Communication and a lot of experience as a Journalist. I currently live in Wisconsin, USA.