Out of my Mind

By Debbie Carini

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Once a mom, always a mom.

That’s what they say. And that’s what my grandmother always told me. When she had something serious to expound upon, she’d take a nice long drag on her cigarette, cough it out, and then point the smoldering butt in your face and issue an Edna edification. For example:

“Stop putting so much cinnamon on your rice pudding, it’ll dry your blood out!”

And once, when my mom – her daughter – had to have a minor operation, she looked at me with a great deal of concern on her face and said:

“Once a mom, always a mom.”

And so, I found myself at a cat café with my daughter. She asked me to go; what could I say?

Well actually, first I said, “What’s a cat café?” I was thinking it might be some kind of cool eatery (she lives in L.A.) where only hep-cats are allowed inside, so I wasn’t sure that I, in my comfortable shoes and “mom” clothes, would even be granted entry.

But it turns out, it is literally, a cat café – there are tables, chairs, coffee and cats. Dozens of cats. The concept originated in Taiwan and spread to Japan where people who live in cramped apartments, and aren’t allowed to have pets, can experience the companionship and joy of cuddling with a friendly feline.

In the United States, most cat cafés focus on having their kitties adopted. I already have a cat and my daughter has two. But, in my effort to be a good mom, I made a reservation, and dragged my own mom along for good measure.

Once outside the café, we waited, like fans anticipating a meeting with a movie star, for our appointed time with the kitties.

I peered in the window with trepidation. Even though I have a cat, I’m not much of a pet person; I just caved-in when my kids wanted a four-legged friend. Having grown up with a German Shepherd mix, I knew how much work a dog could be; a cat – an animal that basically bathes itself (how great is that?) – seemed like a good compromise.

When I was a child, afraid of all animals, a well-meaning adult once told me, “Don’t show your fear to the animal – if it thinks you’re afraid, it will know it can attack you.”

So of course, I grew-up certain that all cats, dogs, hamsters, mice, etc., were out to get me and I’ve never quite lost that feeling. I reach out to pet our cat and still fully expect to be hissed at or scratched (though she’s quite friendly when she thinks it’s time to eat, usually at 5 in the morning).

But I did the mom thing – took a deep breath and went inside. Cats were everywhere, in baskets, on shelves, on benches and in fluffy blankets. My daughter was in heaven, I was on high alert, and my mom was just incredulous that such things exist. It was all good fun and we went on to finish our day doing something we all excel at – shopping.

And now I just hope my daughter doesn’t find out about a farm in Nottingham, New Hampshire … it features yoga … with baby goats!

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