L & I moved in together in May 2005. L kept saying that next we should get a cat. I was reluctant. I did really want a cat but it seemed like maybe it would be too much work. I notice little things like scattered litter and stinkiness. Plus we'd have to get someone to watch it anytime we wanted to go away for a couple days. I tried to weigh it in my mind but there was really no way to know.
I started searching online listings just to see what was out there and start to imagine life with kitty. Finding a cat was a project - the shelter listings were mainly for cats in foster homes. One morning I thought I'd found a pair of kittens for us but the fosterparents were still interviewing multiple potential adoptees. As in, we couldn't bring the kittens home that day; we might not even be selected.
L swooped in at that point. I woke up from a nap the afternoon that we were supposed to go see the foster kittens and in the same breath that he told me that we couldn't bring the kittens home he also said that on craigslist he'd found a short-haired kitten just blocks from where we lived that we could have immediately. We borrowed a friend's car and raced around the city purchasing kitten supplies - litter box & litter, toys, a carpeted 3 foot tall tower, and kitten food.
On the way to pick up our new kitten I promised God that if we could really bring the kitten home today I would accept it and love it and take good care of it no matter what.
Finally we got to the apartment and met S. He was... not a kitten. He was big. And his fur was medium length not short and very possibly long. It was also black & white, like a cow, a long haired cow with a racoon's big stripey tail. He already had a name. And a litter box. And toys. And a big bag of food, which was not kitten food. L asked me if I still wanted him. I said yes. I had to. I promised God. (A year later I learned that L hadn't wanted S once we saw him.)
The first few months were bumpy. S was so reserved and well behaved, with a few dramatic exceptions, that I worried that he had developmental delays or maybe he'd been abused. And then we found our stride.
Now, he gets up with L every morning and they hang out while L drinks coffee, reads the news, and watches the sun rise. Later S comes into the bedroom and sits with me while I wake up. I pet him, eat some toast, read a little. He sat with me all through my (so-called) thesis while I took notes and wrote drafts, sometimes pulling me away from the work by climbing onto the back of my chair.
He's chatty and mischievous. He gets into cupboards & closets, slips out the apartment door, runs to the window when he hears us outside. He prefers us to anyone else. And he doesn't like to share us with other cats for very long. He has a very different relationship with L than he does with me. They rough-house, play chase, and L even creates little challenges for S to figure out. With me, S tends to cuddle or we just sit together, sometimes we play fetch with a catnip mouse. He likes to sit on my baby belly, like a hen on her eggs. It's been funny to see different sides of who we are as people come out through our relationship with an animal - and to see different sides of S the Cat through his relationships with each of us humans.
So we're certainly a family already. I'm embarrassed to have categorized S outside of family (& a couple is a family too!). And in tiny, fraction ways, S gives us little hints for when baby comes. Like they don't look the way you expect. Love grows with time. Taking care of someone is one way to meet who they are & be surprised by them. You influence each other. You each show up with some traits or preferences or personality already - let each one be who they are. Mama & Papa may know the little one differently. Granted, baby is exponentially different than kitten (or not a kitten in our case) and that exponential difference will effect our entire family, including S.