It’s Sunday evening.  I’ve just sat down to work on that now-scheduled-for-Christmas-quilt for my son, when I  get a text from one of my best friends.  It’s one of those super happy texts that reads the following, “I’m going to surprise my daughter and get her the cat she’s been wanting for Christmas.  I’m so excited. I can’t wait!”   Taking a deep breath I text back, “since when have you liked cats?”  Her response is something akin to, “oh, my boyfriend has three cats.  I love snuggling up with them.  They are great! This is great!  It’s going to be a great Christmas!”  I start texting back, but realize that in this instance, damage control requires a phone call and not a text. I stop working on the quilt and call her. Afraid that my friend has told her kid that she is going to get her the super-duper cat for Christmas, I’m relieved when she tells me that she hasn’t yet told her daughter.  “Good,” I think to myself.  There is still time to save my friend from herself.  “You know,” I say, “being in love is a little like being drunk.  You do things you shouldn’t. You say things you wish you hadn’t said and buy things you wish you hadn’t purchased.”  “Like the cat?” she asks.  “Yes,”  I say.  “Like the cat.”  You may be asking yourself why am I trying so hard to stop my friend from buying such a benign thing as a cat for Christmas; especially if it’s to surprise her daughter. The reason is quite simple. In the midst of falling in love, and setting up a Christmas tree, my friend forgot one important factor. She doesn’t like animals.  She doesn’t like dogs.  She doesn’t even like birds.  She doesn’t see the point in owning fish, and never in our over 15 year friendship has she expressed any interest in owning a cat. “But I love cuddling up with them when I go visit my boyfriend. They have just grown on me,”  she says still trying to convince me.  Mind you, she and this great guy have been dating for under a year, and while the relationship I’m happy to say is going wonderfully well, I’m certain she’s liked guys in general a lot longer than she’s liked cats.  I have a good feeling about the relationship with the guy, but not so much about one with a cat.  I proceed to extract from my head the file on stories-I-have-heard-from-my-cat-lover-friends. After all these years of listening to cat stories from good friends of mine, I felt that I had enough material to dissuade my friend from acquiring her own little Mustafa. I inform her of all the crazy, wacky things cats do, like meow entire days because their owner went on vacation. “Really?”  “They can meow for days?” my friend murmurs softly.  I tell her about the friend who had to climb a ladder because his cat got stuck in the tree. “Hmm, I don’t own a ladder,” my friend muses.  I tell her about the hefty vet bills some of my friends have had to pay because their cat got really ill. She practically shouts into the phone, “they had to pay how much?” In the end I put it to her this way.  I tell her that every time she visits her boyfriend, and cuddles up with one of his cute cats, it’s equivalent to when you go visit friends that have really wonderful children.  As you spend time with these kids you think to yourself, “these kids are angels. I could just take them home with me.”  What you don’t see is what goes on when you are not there. You don’t see the parents rushing their child to the doctor because their child fell and hit his head. You don’t see the parents practically fainting when they get their hospital bill in the mail. You don’t see the struggle that ensues in trying to chase a toddler to give him a bath or the battle that comes from trying to take him out of one.   In a nutshell you don’t see all the hard work that goes into raising those wonderful kids that are cuddled up next to you on the couch and the same goes for the cat.  At the end of the conversation my friend was grateful that I had reminded her about the non-animal lover she truly is.  For those of you who think I don’t believe people can change their likes and dislikes, I told my friend that if in six months she still wants a cat for herself and her daughter, then she should definitely go and make some stray cat at the ASPCA happy.  Until then, please don’t let falling in love or the magic of the holidays make you do things you’ll regret later on, because once the excitement dies down a bit you will be asking yourself, “I did what over Christmas?!” You know, the kind of questions you ask yourself after attending the holiday Christmas party.

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