Although it can be difficult, it is important not to let one bad experience result in a lifelong grudge and leave you close-minded.
Personally, I had a particularly unfortunate run-in with a cat which distorted my view of the entire species for years until I came to realize that not all house cats are scheming, evil beings.
I was in grade six and our lovely neighbours had departed for a weeklong vacation to Mexico. They left behind their cat, who was appropriately named ‘Ruin.’ He was an old cat with patchy fur and a cranky demeanour. He suffered from health issues and had to wear a cone.
It was our job during the week to perform wellness checks on Ruin and make sure the food and water dishes were full. On the third day of the week my younger brother and I went over to the neighbours’ house without parental supervision. After we topped up the food and water we set out around the house looking for the cat.
We found Ruin in the basement, hiding in a basket behind a door in the furnace room. I mistakenly reached out with my hand and the cat launched himself out of the basket, biting my hand and latching on.
In shock, I politely said “that’s not very nice, you should let go of me now.” My brother stood by watching in horror. Ruin released his grip and we hustled up the stairs and ran home. When we arrived not five minutes later my hand had swollen up to resemble a baseball.
At the hospital, the doctor repeatedly expressed how lucky I was Ruin’s teeth hadn’t punctured my bones. Had that happened, I would have needed to have my right index finger amputated. According to the doctor, cats are one of the worst animals to be bitten by due to the bacteria they harbour in their mouths.
Seriously, if you are bitten by a cat seek immediate medical treatment. Their long sharp teeth literally inject bacteria deep into your tissue — it can kill you if left untreated.
I had to visit the hospital twice a day for a week to receive intravenous treatment. Each session lasted an hour and I needed to suck on Mentos because the IV caused a horrible taste in my mouth. For weeks my left hand ached as it was forced to carry the load at school, and I still have the bite scars to show for it.
Needless to say, from that day forward I lumped all cats into one category: Mean, unpredictable animals that had no place in the presence of people.
Then, right before I departed for university, my parents adopted a kitten named Walter from a family friend’s acreage. I was able to spend some time with Walter before I left, and he slowly started to warm me up to his kind again.
Each time I was home on a break or for the holidays, my comfort level with cats would improve. Although Walter is by no means is a particularly calm or cuddly animal, I had faith that he wasn’t out for blood.
Now I have no problems letting cats rub against my leg, and I have few reservations about petting them. I might even get a cat of my own someday.
So whenever I have a bad experience with something or someone, I think of Ruin and remember not to let it ‘ruin’ things for me forever.