Taking a break from travel to talk pets, specifically cats...

The basis for my cat animosity

Like many people, I grew up with dogs, and I never thought that I would like cats. That sentiment was mostly because if Sammy, my uncle's tabby tomcat. His temperament was permanent ornery mode. If anyone who wasn't my uncle approached him, he hissed like an industrial sized radiator and swiped at them with his razor claws.

Worse, his litter box wreaked of ammonia and poop, a hideous smell that would hit me full force whenever I came into their house. I'm not sure where they placed the box, but its unbearable odor permeated every room, and even outside in the backyard. My uncle once told me that he had to clean Sammy's litter box every single day. I couldn't think of a worse fate to befall anyone, and it didn't seem to help.

Sammy would sometimes approach me, especially if he was desperately hungry and could snag some treats locked in a foil pouch on the kitchen countertop. He would eye me, purr a bit just enough to lure me in. I would think, "Oh, he's changed. He'll be nice to me now." Then I scattered some weirdly spongy treats in front of him.

Once he achieved his objective, he'd slip right past my petting hand, full of contempt and nonchalance, and run away.

How could you not love a feline face like this one?

Dogs rule, cats drool

Instead, I loved the dogs we had, and pretty much anyone else's. From our dachshund Ricky, who I barely remember, because he passed when I was three, to our two nearly twin peach colored toy poodles, both named Muffin, dogs have always won my heart.

And how could you not love them? They run up to greet you, tails furiously waving, like you were the only person on earth. Unlike those finicky felines, they responded when you called and showed their loyalty by heeding your words. They even seemed to know when you were down and knew just when to rest their heads on your lap or your tummy to comfort you.

Dogs love to walk, run and swim. You can take them anywhere, and they show endless enthusiasm. Cats would never give in to such indignity.

Queen Kuro, all bow to her

Then I changed my mind...

So when Kuro entered our lives two and a half years ago, after much pleading from NLS, I didn't think I'd become much of a cat person. In fact, I didn't think I'd even approach that slightly embarrassing label. But surprise - she's turned all of my family into just that.

Kuro means both "black" and "ninth son" in Japanese. NLS actually gave her this name because it was apparently one of her favorite anime characters at one time. But I'm still not sure which one that is.

Unlike Sammy, our little tuxedo beauty crawls onto anyone's lap. She doesn't play favorites. Peering up from the edge of our living room couch, she stare plaintively and seems to wait for permission. A musical meow comes from her tiny mouth. When she slinks up and kneads her place to lay, her motor-like purr relaxes like meditation music. Kuro will then sometimes affectionately bump her head against ours, or touch noses as she does with me. How many cats do that sort of thing?

Kuro is sometimes my "work partner" - not the most helpful one, either

Part of our family

Even though I don't do much work from home now, Kuro has been my work companion. She hasn't really contributed much to my work production, except a stress-relieving purr and a reminder that I should not work too much.

Kuro truly loves all of us

As everyone in my family has discovered, we love having a pet in our house. When RAS's dog Zena came into our household 15 years ago, we loved her, but she wasn't truly ours. She learned to be comfortable around the girls and me, but she was most loyal to her master. Kuro has been all of ours from the start, and she loves all of us equally.

I'm sure that most cats are not like Kuro, but she's converted me from a confirmed dog person to a strong cat person. Well, if truth be told, I'm probably both. I still hate being around litter boxes, and you can't make me change them.