Today I was standing at the counter that separates the kitchen from the great room pressing quarters into a coin collection book we have for the state quarters, I asked my husband “Don’t we have another one of these books? You know, in case we ever have kids?” (We’ve never been in a hurry to have children.)

Jasper chose that moment to tear by us, hurdling himself through the kitchen, through the sliding door and out onto the screened porch.

“We do have kids. Bad ones,” David said as he put breakfast dishes into the dishwasher.

“Yes, but they don’t inherit stuff. What would they do with all these state quarters?”

They may not be human, but Chloe and Jasper are our babies, our family.

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Chloe was three years old when Jasper came along, a product of my sister’s unending talent for rescuing animals. She called me one night asking if we wanted a kitten. “No!” I told her. “Chloe wouldn’t like it.”

Chloe, aka Chloe Monster, was a bit… ah, mean. Not so much mean as completely independent and very uncuddly. And of course, I always wanted her to cuddle. Those encounters never ended well – she’d get mad and I’d get scratched. But I loved her still.

My sister told me the story of the kitty she wanted us to take: she’d stolen it from under a nasty trailer on a very dirty farm. I couldn’t bring myself to say yes.

But after I hung up with her, I had this sadness I couldn’t quite explain. I told David I felt like we were missing out on something because we’d said no. My heart softened. I called her back and said yes. The baby needed a home after all. I started asking questions. Is it a girl? Yes, she said. Good, because I don’t want a boy cat. What color is it? A gray tabby, she told me. Ugh. A gray cat. Something I’d always thought I never wanted.

The next weekend we met halfway between our houses for the drop. We took the kitten home. It cried its kitten meow (weee-uw! weee-uw!) the whole way. We took her to the vet. She weighed barely a pound, had a horrible case of ear mites and an upper respiratory infection. And she was a he.

We brought him home, introduced him to Chloe. She wouldn’t speak to us. She stopped sleeping at the end of our bed. I cried. A couple days later, we decided we better find a new home for that kitten. We tried – half-heartedly.

Meanwhile, we put drops in his ears every day, fed him with a tiny bottle while he held onto it with his paws, chased him with tissues when he’d sneeze. And then it was too later because we were already in love with him.

Six years later, I can’t imagine not having him in our lives. jasper.jpgHe’s infuriating – he breaks stuff all the time, wakes me up almost every morning because he wants some company, opens my jewellery box and pulls stuff out, scratches the couch, bothers the crap out of Chloe all the time. But even she loves him. I can tell. I catch her cleaning him when she thinks no one’s looking. And once in a while I see them snuggling. He’s made a difference in all our lives, this cat I never thought I wanted. Even Chloe’s. He made her more loving – she even cuddles sometimes now. But only on her own terms, of course.

Jasper the Stinky Man and Chloe Monster might have four legs, but they’re our babies, our family. They make life more interesting and definitely more rewarding.

Submitted by Jasclo

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