I am a Cat Mom.
Make no mistake, being a Cat Mom is not the same as being a cat owner. Sure, a cat owner loves their cat and makes sure they have food and water and a clean litter box, all the essential things their cat needs to survive. But being a Cat Mom is a whole different ball game.
The two traits I have found, in my own experience, that discern Cat Moms from cat owners are as follows:
1. Cat Moms hold their cat and feel the breath from their angel baby's tiny perfect nostrils on their cheek and think about the fact that someday far off this precious little airstream will cease to flow and their cat's perfect, furry little soul will go up to the happy hunting ground in the sky and so the Cat Mom keeps squeezing and squeezing their angel baby even though the cat's eyes are now wild with fear and their paws are extended, smooshing the Cat Mom's face in order to keep it as far away from themselves as possible.
2. They constantly google cat behaviors.
As the self-proclaimed poster human for all Cat Moms everywhere, I make sure to do both aforementioned actions pretty much every single day. One such day, while googling what the world looks like through a cat's eyes (spoiler alert: no one knows), I came across some troubling information.
Cats hate eye contact.
Now, this fact is not troublesome in itself, but for me personally, it was extremely problematic. Because while cats may not like eye contact, they do love to stare at things. And my cat, Liza, for whatever reason, loves to stare at me. All the damn time. I started feeling guilty that I'd failed her in some fundamental way (Cat Mom trait #3) because literally anytime I looked up, there she was. Staring. Getting out of the shower -- staring. Working at my desk -- staring. Sitting on the toilet -- staring. Every time we made eye contact, I'd quickly avert my eyes and apologize profusely, but I feared the damage already done was irreparable. Despite all of the love and litter box shoveling, I'd still somehow managed to break my cat to the point where she didn't even know that she was supposed to hate eye contact. It was like a weird, accidental, cat-version of Stockholm Syndrome. I was beside myself.
Fortunately, another Cat Mom google search brought some much-needed relief.
Turns out that cats really truly do hate eye contact. BUT should you make eye contact with a cat, especially a cat you are only loosely acquainted with, you can blink and then look away with no love lost between the two of you Even better, should you make eye contact with a cat you know well (read: you squeeze the life force out of on a daily basis while praying God will spare them and they will live forever), you can hold their gaze, slowly blink, and they in return might slowly blink back at you. This, my friends, is the ultimate gift a cat can bestow.
This is the Cat Kiss.
Upon reading this information, I promptly morphed into a middle school boy; I'd never been more nervous for a first kiss, but also couldn't stop lurking around, trying to trick Liza into it. And, like middle school girls always seem to do, Liza sensed my desperation and stayed far, far away. One day, while I was on the couch reading a very important and distinguished piece of literature (Netflix binging), I felt little paws land on the cushion near my feet. My heart started pounding like it was the last slow song at the 8th-grade dance. I knew this was the moment I'd been waiting for.
Slowly, slowly, slowly, I shifted my gaze from the page (screen), up over my book (laptop) and my eyes locked with a pair of beautiful, green feline ones that seemed to say, "this moment is in no way special to me. Also, I'm hungry."
I blinked. I opened my eyes. She blinked. She opened her eyes.
There it was, proof of love. My beautiful, stoic, face-smooshing child held affection for me in her little cat heart. Liza was no Patty Hearst! She was here because she knew that I would go to the ends of the earth for her. That those terrifying daily squeeze sessions came from a place of unending, unconditional awe of the creature she'd turned out to be. And, miracle of all miracles, she was still there, staring, waiting for more. The song hadn't ended, we could keep shuffling around the gym.
I blinked. I opened my eyes. Liza had turned around and was now showing me her asshole.
Middle school girls can be so fickle.