Today, my baby girl turns 10.
In celebration of this momentous occasion, I present to you: the Story of Dagny.
(What’s better than Hallmark? Kittehs!)
I was in college when my then boyfriend and I decided to get a cat. On a warm July day, we headed down to our local Humane Society to check out the adoptions. Honestly, I did not expect to take home a pet that day. I thought we’d browse, think about it, and decide after weighing all the options. I didn’t even take my purse in to pay the adoption fee.
This particular Humane Society had their cats in small kennels similar to dog runs, with chain link doors separating the people from the animals. There were a couple cats in each one, most mewing to get some attention. One kitten, a little grey male, was so obnoxiously loud that we had to stop and look at him. He immediately started climbing the chain links to get nearer to use, crying all the while.
“Not that one,” my boyfriend said, turning quickly away. “He’d drive us crazy.”
But behind the grey kitten, sitting quietly, was another cat. A calico. I think she was the only cat in the room not begging for attention. As I’d find out later, this is not an animal that begs for anything, let alone attention. She demands.
But I couldn’t look away from her. And she was on my lap, headed for her forever home, about fifteen minutes later.
(Snuggling with her puppies)
Our new girl was christened Dagny, after the main character in my favorite novel.
As it turns out, we chose one of the worst times ever to adopt a kitten. My boyfriend and I were both working a summer theatre through my college, and our days consisted of about 15 hours of rehearsals and building sets. Unfortunately, that schedule did not leave nearly enough time for adequate kitten cuddles. My sister was enlisted as Kitty Sitter to help get Dagny accustomed to our house.
The Kitty Sitter left one lasting impression on Dagny – the conviction that glasses of people water are far superior to dishes of kitty water. To this day, Dagny insists on drinking from my glass and refuses to touch the dog and cat water dishes. She will, however, make an exception for the direct source and demand the water faucet be turned on if I am in the bathroom with her.
Our baby girl quickly become accustomed to life in her new home. She discovered the joys of napping in the lap of a reading Mama, fighting with the “kitty” in the full length mirror, and unrolling the entire roll of toilet paper in the bathroom.
Dagny is a unique animal. Some of my favorite Dagny traits:
- She has always been super playful. Of course, all kittens are playful. But Dagny still plays as an adult. She has favorite toys and favorite games. She will initiate a game of Chasey-Chasey with my husband or me by slapping our ankles, running away, and then turning to check and see if we are following. She prefers to play with the humans and not the other animals, probably because she is so much smaller than the rest of the crew at under 8 pounds.
- She is the most athletic animal I have ever encountered. She can leap five feet in the air from a stand-still. She can jump across incredible spans and land on the slimmest of ledges. She is the cat you see in internet photos sleeping on the top of door jambs and on closet rods. She out-maneuvers all the cats and dogs in the house when they attempt to play with her. Watching her move is truly amazing to me.
- She has incredible survival skills. Of course, all cats are natural hunters. But Dagny is the one I am certain could survive in the wild, even though she has been declawed on her front feet (Side Note: Please, please do not declaw your cats. Ever. For any reason.).
- She is smart. She problem solves and analyzes. She has the humans pretty well trained as a result.
- She will always let you know what she is thinking. This cat is an incredible communicator. She somehow manages to convey her contentment, displeasure, hunger, playfulness, boredom, nervousness, and cabin fever without a single
Time passed from Dagny’s first home. When my boyfriend and I went our separate ways, it was just understood that Dagny would be going with me. And since then, she has traveled everywhere with me.
We’ve been through several states, numerous houses, and lots and lots of cardboard boxes. She has even flown on a plane with me. When I lived in my first apartment alone, Dagny was my company.
As a result of all this moving, Dagny has become extremely territorial. Most female cats do tend to be somewhat territorial compared to their male counterparts. But Dagny excels at everything, and her territorial nature is no exception. She is very nervous when suitcases and boxes come out. She does not welcome new animals to the house. She hates when any furniture is rearranged.
My favorite story of Dagny’s territorial nature occurred when I first started dating my husband, many moons ago. She was not overly enthusiastic when he started coming to the apartment. Her apartment. She would allow him to scratch her ears, when it suited her – but that was the extent of their relationship. On the first evening that he stayed overnight in the apartment, he happened to hang his coat on a chair. In the morning, my husband put on his coat, stuck his hands in his pockets, and immediately cringed. Somehow, Dagny had managed to pee IN THE POCKET of his coat while it hung on the chair. At the time, this was hardly funny. But looking back, it is quite amusing to remember the lengths Dagny went to to express herself.
Now my husband and Dagny get along wonderfully. She even sits in his lap when she thinks no one is watching. It took a couple years for her to realize he was around to stay.(Napping is an excellent use of 18 hours a day.) A few of Dagny’s favorite things:
- Loving the dogs, even though she pretends not to
- Being higher up than anyone else
- Napping on the current book on my bedside table
- Sitting next to the bedroom door so she can see what is going on in 3 rooms at once
- Sleeping in clean laundry
- Finding hiding places the other cats never think of
- Drinking the milk in the bottom of cereal bowls
- Sneaking outside to roll around on the porch and eat fresh grass
- Her tiger toy
- Drinking form the bathroom faucet
- Salmon flavored treats
- Boxes, bags, and any other small places she can hide in
Happy birthday to my baby girl. I hope in another 10 years, I have many more Dagny stories to tell!