Today’s Cat Man Monday is written by best-selling author and adventure writer James Dziezynski (who was my sister’s classmate in college!). You can read more about him at the end of this post! Enjoy!
I like all cats and most dogs.
It’s true. I’ve never met a cat I didn’t like. I love a cuddly ball of fur that melts into feline butter as much as the jittery, hiss-machine that demands personal space. I love rough n’ tumble tomcats. I love pampered, sunlight hoarding housecats. I love the entitled and the downtrodden, calico to tuxedo, kitten to tiger and everything in between.
I’m an unapologetic cat man. I also happen to work as a travel and adventure writer. My editors have come to accept that no matter where I go, from the Falkland Islands to Japan, I’m always going to try to shoehorn a picture of a cat in my articles. I rarely pass an opportunity to say hi to a cat – whether or not I get to pet them is entirely up to them. At 37 years old, I still have toddler-like enthusiasm during random cat encounters.
I’ve never understood why more guys aren’t cat men. Cats are low-maintenance, easy on the eyes, clean, independent and compatible – the perfect companion for a guy on the go. Call it indifference or independence, but you can leave your cats for a weekend without remorse or guilt on either side. Getting a friend to tend to your cat is much easier than the time-intensive routines required by dogs.
I was lucky to grow up in a cat-intensive household. A house doesn’t fully become a home until it is graced by a feline presence. As a professional writer, I can’t imagine a setting where I’m forced to toil the hours away without the quiet presence of a cat– which gives me the perfect segue way to brag on my own kitty, Xanadu.
Xanadu was the brightest ray of light during an otherwise low time in my life. I was working part time at a small magazine, where the paychecks rarely made five-figures with cents included. Despite having two college degrees and professional experience, writers were swept up in the shift away from print media. I was forced to work at a pet store to make ends meet. I figured if I’m going to have to take a step down from my aspirations, I damn well better be surrounded by as many furry, friendly faces as possible (the pets, not the customers).
This little calico cat that has been my best pal for the past 11 years is the only confirmed instance of love at first site in my life. She was a little beat up, having lost her home and ended up in our adoption shelter. I remember slyly putting my adoption application on top of a family’s who had sought to adopt her first, a slight breach of etiquette that I think turned out for the best. Xanny (or the X-factor as she is known) came into my life January 1, 2003 and has been by my side ever since.
I have grown accustomed to her warm presence and soft purr as I go to sleep each night. I am keenly aware of her absence when I travel and she is not there. She has napped soundly in front of my computer as I’ve labored away at articles and books. She has quietly nuzzled me as I’ve confronted rejection letters and has tolerated being swept into my arms and dancing with joy at my success. She is the perfect cat, sweet but not needy, personable but independent and always a picture of grace. Xanadu is the cat that even cat-haters can love.
On a few rare occasions, I’ve had trips long where Xanadu stayed with trusted friends. The times when I’ve walked into my house and she wasn’t there felt empty, soulless. I look forward to her trademark greeting: an unrushed canter accompanied by a soft, barely audible meow.
When all the adventures are done, nothing ends a day better than a good book and a cat. As the years go by and life has its ups and downs, I’m so grateful for this little, gentle soul that starts nearly every day and concludes every night. As a bit of an introvert, I find it difficult to talk about myself but if the subject shifts to cats, you’re going to get an earful.
Yes, I am an unabashed cat man. I wear cat t-shirts un-ironically. Cat statues, photos and banners festoon my work area (not to mention a real, live cat). I have kitten stickers on my snowboard. In fact, Xanadu is just entering the room now so I’m going to wrap up this article and go love on her.
In a very manly way, of course.
James Dziezynski is a best-selling author and adventure writer based out of Boulder, Colorado. He has written for Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Backpacker, Denver Post, Discover and more. James volunteers at several animal rescues, including Every Creature Counts, the shelter he adopted Xanadu from. James is an avid mountaineer, rock climber, explorer, tri-athlete and mountain biker and does so on a vegetarian diet. You can visit his website and blog at www.jamesdziezynski.com and find him on Facebook www.facebook.com/jamesdziezynski and Twitter @James_Dz.