I will admit it. I used to be anti-cats. Raised to love dogs, cats were the enemy. There was no cruelness or harm done, yet I extended no warmth and appreciation for felines. I even prided myself on being a dog-person. Can you relate? It’s one of those getting-to-know-you conversation starters, ‘Oh yeah, I’m definitely a dog-person and can’t stand cats’, or ‘Cats, yuck! I adore dogs. They’re way better’. Yep, that was me. Hopefully you’re wondering though, ‘What’s up with the ‘was?’. Exactly. Because something happened that has turned me into a cat-lover. Big surprise that it was a cat itself. Her name is Gata.

Before you assume the worst about me, be assured that I love animals and appreciate them. Then there’s ‘liking’ and being crazy about certain animals. It just wasn’t cats for me for a long time. Cue the scene of me being in my mid-thirties and living on a Mediterranean Beach in Spain, and what I thought would never change, did.

First Sightings of Gata

It started with where we live, renting a traditional Spanish house right on the beach in a Valencian town called Dénia. There’s a lovely yard around the house, some regal palm trees, and a picturesque view of the beach just steps away. A terrace graces the front of the house and then another covered terrace is at the back. It was here in the back terrace that we began to have our first ‘gata sightings’.

She was clearly a stray cat, a little gaunt and painfully skittish. What captivated me though were her eyes. A vibrant, ice-blue, they give away that she is part Siamese. The eyes are even slightly cross-eyed, only adding to her adorableness. Her underbelly is white and along her back are shades of grey and brown. This is accented with the unique stripes of her tail, dark and light browns with some hues of silver, lined in wide ring after wing, from beginning to end. To top it off, her left ear has a chunk out of it along the top, as if something took a bite out of it. She oozes classiness and girlishness, yet is obviously a tough one. In every way, she is a gorgeous cat.

It was last winter and cold and rainy when she started showing up even closer to the door. At first I thought to myself, ‘Ugh, I don’t like cats. Should I shoo her away…’. But I found my heart melting when I looked at those big blue eyes.

We started giving her little scraps of meat and strips of deli ham. She was so timid to eat them, but would take it from our fingers, yanking it away trepidatiously before wolfing it down. When I tried to reach out and pet her, she became startled and would back away. If I snuck a pet in, she would literally jump and run off.

Now that I think about it, her earlier shy behavior seems so long ago and it’s amazing to see what she is like now. We have an old plastic patio chair set close to the door on the back terrace. It’s sheltered from rain and wind and is now where she spends most of her time it seems. A couple old towels are draped over the chair, creating a cozy, soft bed for her.

Where’s Gata?

Now that I think about it, her earlier shy behavior seems so long ago and it’s amazing to see what she is like now. We have an old plastic patio chair set close to the door on the back terrace. It’s sheltered from rain and wind and is now where she spends most of her time it seems. A couple old towels are draped over the chair, creating a cozy, soft bed for her.

And the name? Well, Gata just kind of stuck. Perhaps not too original, but she recognizes it now and comes when she hears me call to her if I see her out in the yard. Eric likes to call her ‘Squata’, a creative combination of Gata and the squatter that she is.

Even now, Gata lets us pet her. And I mean, really pet her. We don’t necessarily cuddle with her, but she leans into our head rubs and ear nuzzles and lets us stroke her back. She still gets startled and jumps away sometimes, but we’ve realized that it’s probably because her eyesight is horrendous.

What a Cat Lover’s Love Can Do

It’s been an endearing experience for me to change my feelings about cats. Gata will always hold a special place in my heart as the cat who won me over and changed my mind about cats. She is still not house cat or one who we feel we can ‘own’. For us, her mystic and presence will always hold that essence of independence. And even a bit of well-deserved aloofness that all cats seem to naturally possess. It is said that a cat following you or being around the door of your home, brings a message that you need to shake things up, be adaptable and open to change. That message is certainly spot on for us this year.

The Egyptians revered cats and the Ancient Romans believed they possessed powerful energy in various ways. Even in our recent history and today, we have cats associated with folklore of witches and their black cats or characters like “Puss in Boots”. I’ve come to believe that Gata came to me for this past year, to share her wonderful energy with us.

What are your feelings about cats? Have you experienced changing your mind about liking an animal? We’d love to hear the story, so please comment below.

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