The Things That Bella Has Taught Me

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After a Memorial Day Weekend trip to Louisiana in 2009, I decided to stop in Mississippi at the Southhaven City Animal Shelter to see if they had any dogs that might interest me. I had been considering getting a dog for awhile and had been researching the topic, but I hadn’t gone to see any. So, I stopped at the shelter and looked at their dogs. Most were bigger than I wanted. I had decided I wanted a medium-sized dog. I wanted one I could run with and take camping. I finally found one that was of interest, and I asked the shelter employee if it got along with cats. She offered to get one of the cats from the shelter “stock” and find out. She brought out this tiny bundle of fur with big blue eyes. “OMG….why did you bring that kitten out?” I asked. I knew I was a goner. I managed to leave the shelter without the kitten, but I couldn’t quit thinking about her all week. I called on Friday and asked if they still had her, and they did. “We’re running a $10 special on all kittens this weekend,” she responded. So, I got a Siamese kitten for 10 bucks. What a steal!

Lesson #1: Being memorable will get you out of some pretty sticky situations.

Lesson #2: Being cute inspires people to do things that they hadn’t planned to do – like start a new relationship.

Lesson #3: Be open to changing your plans on a moment’s notice. Something better just might come along.

NOTE: Click on the pics for the captions.

Bella had been found by herself somewhere in Northern Mississippi. They are not sure what happened, but she was only 4 weeks old. I had to wean her off moist food, but it didn’t take long. She could fit in my hand, and she was absolutely freaking adorable. I had two other cats – Buster and Simba – and they were quite surprised when I brought a kitten home. If you’ve ever had a kitten, you know they are hell on wheels. They hurl their small bodies at things with no fear. They attack everything with a vengeance. And, in the middle of an attack, they will just fall asleep. A kitten is endless hours of entertainment.

Lesson #4: Be adventurous. Worry about conforming later.

Lesson #5: Just because somebody is bigger than you doesn’t mean you can’t scratch them with your claws.

My cat Simba was very old. And, he was really irritated with Bella. But, like the good old soul he was, he tolerated her and took her under his wing to teach her the ropes. He really did take on the role of teaching her how to behave. It was so cute. He would show her how to eat without making a huge mess. He’d stand on her chest to make her calm down. He’d clean her up with his tongue. He was quite the sweet big brother. I miss my boy Simba.

Lesson #6: Be teachable but keep some unruly habits that serve you well.

Lesson #7: Find role models that care about you.

She is a goddess with her blankie

She is a goddess with her blankie

Bella has a mind of her own. She’s the smallest animal I own. But, her personality is the biggest. She is definitely the hardest to win over. When anyone new comes to my house, she wants nothing to do with them. She will hide until she gets ready to slink out and take a peek. Peering over at them from afar, she will watch their every move. If they move toward her, she will commence to open mouth hissing and run away. She’ll gradually come around, but it takes awhile, and it happens on her terms, not theirs.

Lesson #8: Be wary of strangers.

Lesson #9: Set strong boundaries until you get to know somebody. Make your own decisions as to when to let down your guard.

Everyday when I come home, she runs into the guest bedroom and rolls over onto her back with her legs up in the air. And, she gives me that look. You know…the look that says come over here and scratch my stomach. As soon as I start scratching her stomach, she wraps her paws around me and starts kicking me with her back feet. She jumps up and runs away, licking her wounds.

Lesson #10: Be vulnerable, but protect yourself at the same time.

Lesson #11: Know when to say “when.”

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Her favorite spots are my bathroom and my bed. She always loved the water in the bathroom. She drinks out of the faucet and wanders around on the floor of the shower, licking up the puddles. I have a space heater that I turn on in the winter, and she curls up beside it, soaking up the warmth. I sleep with an electric blanket when it’s cold, and she loves to hang out in the bed with me. She walks up close to my head, starts “digging” with her paws on my shoulder to signal to me that she wants to get under the blanket. She gets under there, rolls up beside me and starts sucking on my pajamas while she kneads with her paws. I wake up in the morning with a saliva wet spot on the waistband of my pajamas.

Lesson #12: Teach people the rules of how you like to be treated and insist that your needs are met.

Lesson #13: If it feels good and makes you feel better, don’t worry about what others think of you.

I’m so glad I wandered into that shelter that day for a dog. I had talked to my friend Michael about choosing a dog, and told him I was going to get one. I posted a picture of Bella on Facebook, and he commented, “That’s the strangest dog I’ve ever seen.” Yes, she would make a strange dog. But, for a Siamese cat, she’s pretty darn special. And, she was the perfect teacher for me at the perfect time.

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Last but not least… develop a good “go to hell” look. It’ll get your message across in a way a meow never can.

7 thoughts on “The Things That Bella Has Taught Me

  1. Cats are very special, they are superior beings. We hope to get another cat someday. I love Lesson #12 – I’m getting better at this. Still have a ways to go. Thanks for the lessons learned from Bella!

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