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May 13, 2001: A gathering of meow

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Years ago while in college I joined an email list dedicated to cat lovers. It's gone through a few iterations since - moving from server to server; changing ownership and even names - but it's always had only one goal - to provide a forum for people to talk about and share their love for cats. The list fluctuates in membership and make-up, but on average, there are several hundred members who span not only the country, but also the globe. Age ranges from teen to grandparent, and most of us would probably never have met and have nothing else in common with each other except for our cats.

While local members have had impromptu regional gatherings all along, the list owner has planned a yearly gathering at her home for everyone who wants to come. We all fly in, wearing cat shirts, carrying cat books, toys, and other paraphenelia to share, toting pictures of our cats, and prepared for fun. We play games like Cat-go and Cat-centration. We eat chocolate and pizza; chips and dip; homemade breakfasts loaded with sausages and bacon and eggs. We sleep on the floor of her house, crammed into nooks and crannies, staying up til the wee hours of the morning talking and giggling like school children on a sleep-over. And then when it is over we hug our goodbyes and return home, to post cryptic hilarity to the rest of the group who couldn't come - stories of pewter picture frames mistaken for handcuffs at the airport security gate; pictures of members frozen in cat grooming positions; continued reminders of gatherings from years before, referred to by the outing: the year of the butter cow; the year of the cat store.

And so it was this weekend, as I returned from Des Moines this afternoon after two and a half days of not enough sleep and more than enough fun, laden with treats and toys for the cats, and a few for me as well. After being surrounded by so many people and two adorable puppies and three shy cats to entertain and spoil, it was wonderful to be home with my own cats once again. I dropped my suitcases on the floor and leaned down to pet all of them as they crowded around me like abandoned children, telling me stories of loneliness and neglect until I had appeased them with all the attention they desired.

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