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Felis Philodendron – The Cat Who Grew Into A Plant

Green Leaf Plant Growing from Cat

Colored Pencil drawing of a "Cat Plant" for my mother.

I drew my Cat Plant in honor of my mother… partly as a sarcastic joke, and partly to remind myself of how mysteriously our genetics work.
Everyone has limitless potential to grow into a unique character – there are oddballs in every family – and yet we are essentially connected.

History repeats itself in many ways, even in our personal lives, where individual human nature causes us to seek out familiar situations and like-minded people.

As a child who was obsessed with cats, fancying myself as a human vessel for a cat spirit, it seemed only natural for me to detect the sub-human wavelength that signified another cat person was present. Ages ago, I was told that boys would find me more attractive if I stopped behaving like a cat, and yet boys who grew up with cat-obsessed mothers were drawn to me like …well, like cats to a bowl of cereal. LOL

Both my husband Joe and my ex-husband #1 (Lydia’s dad) were raised by “crazy cat ladies”… in households shared with fifteen cats at one time.

I didn’t realize Joe was a cat person when we started courting, but it became obvious when his cat eavesdropped on our phone calls… and purrred her approval into the receiver.

I’ve started wondering whether people have a genetic pre-disposition for cat-obsession… if it’s an addiction or disorder of some kind.

My oldest daughter likes cats, but isn’t obsessed with them by any means. She loves animals in general, has owned rabbits and fish, and has inquired many times whether she can adopt a puppy “when the cats die”. :P
Our 15-month-old son treats our animals like toys to chase and carry around. He thinks cats run on 4-AA Energizer batteries.

However,  2-year-old Mia didn’t fall far from her family tree… in fact, she fell with grace and landed on all four paws. She developed a full-blown cat obsession; she loves all-things-cat. She even pretends to be a cat just like her mother once did.

She walks like a cat, talks in “mrrrrws” and “purrrs”, she licks and scratches herself, and curls up in our laps. It has been adorable to watch, except that she occasionally takes it a bit too far. Joe has become annoyed with her less sanitary behaviour… the determination to eat her dinner from the floor, to “drink” from the cats’ water bowls, and even to bathe their fur…. yes, with her tongue.

Whenever we are forced to reprimand her, he growls,
“Mia, you are NOT a cat! Act like a human being.”
…and my residual childhood rebellion kicks in and replies,
“She can act like any animal she wants. There is nothing wrong with having a lively imagination.”

…except where germs and bacteria are concerned.

I always joke that she’s inherited it honestly…. but I do feel a slight apprehension for her, if it continues for too long.
She’ll wind up being teased and humiliated by her future classmates, and if she is anything like her stubborn mother, she won’t care a cat’s lick.
Although I’d love to see my kids grow up to be well-liked and sociable, I suppose that I’ll be in a good position to give advice and consolation to a young kindred spirit, who feels lost in this cold-hearted world of realism.

My own family valued creativity and imagination, and they never pressured me to change (although I’m sure they secretly hoped I’d outgrow the novelty of scratching and meowing)… but I always felt like an oddity, even at home. Like an exotic pet that amused them.

I’m not sure from whence my own behaviour originated, however, as none of my relatives hoarded animals or acted strangely. I grew up in the city suburbs, with a strict 2-pet maximum law (and they had to be restrained on leashes outdoors – even cats!)… but I doubt my grandparents would’ve owned 20 cats regardless.

Lady in the kitchen feeding fourteen 14 cats.

My late mother-in-law and her cats... circa 1980.

In fact, we moved to the countryside when I entered high school, and gained 5 acres of land. But no additional cats. Once the two family cats passed away, the house became vacant of furriness… as I had moved out, my grandfather’s health was failing, and Dad had remarried a lady with cat allergies.

My own mother was arguably the strangest person in my immediate family.
I recognize a few of her characteristics in myself, despite not having had much direct influence from her, as I was raised by my grandparents from an early age.
However, she was never much of an animal person. Pets required too much maintainance. She didn’t want an animal that needed to be cleaned, walked, fed, or groomed. Nothing that shed hair on clothing and furniture, caused property damage with teeth and claws, or needed a scooper or litter.

She did own a hamster once …that survived for over 2 years somehow, trapped inside his poor little cage.

She likes cats in theory, but not in practice. She finds them attractive, provided they remain a decorative accessory. Something to brighten up a windowsill, that will sleep quietly all day and soak up sunlight, and require infrequent watering…

Orange cat with green plant leaves

…like a plant.

2 Comments

  •    Reply

    Hi Tara,
    I loved this post. I have always been a catlover. What person in her right mind could not be? I think your daughter sounds very imaginative and extremely cuddly. My nephew used to perform puppet shows when he was small. He has memorized entire fairytales at age 4 and 5 and would act them out. We would tell him how good they were. He was a fan of The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss and his name is Anton. When I would tell him the show was good he would ask, but was it “Antonous”? (his substitute word for Wubbulous). I would reply yes, resoundingly! I think you are doing the right thing. I love the drawing of the cat and plant. Nice take on the childhood experience. Remember, Hemingway had 100 cats. Sure he was a little out there, but what a great novelist!

    •    Reply

      Thanks Noelle!
      She is a cuddly lap-cat, after all! Recently, her imagination invented an invisible friend named Diane… unless the lady is a ghost.

      So what is your nephew doing now? I think every 5 year old wants to be an entertainer when they grow up; a world-famous veterinarian who sings/acts on Broadway and builds rocket ships in their spare time. ;)

      Although Hemmingway was brilliant, I’ll gladly accept mediocre talent if it means enjoying my health and happiness. :) But why settle for 100 cats, when you can have 1,000?! LOL

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