October 2017

by Marshall Chapman

Photograph by Anthony Scarlati

Are you a cat person or a dog person? Perhaps you’re both.

I grew up loving dogs because my family always had dogs. The two I remember most fondly were Impy, a black cocker spaniel, and Bendix, our Boston Terrier. As I grew older, however, I began to gravitate toward cats.

For years I lived in a high-rise near Vanderbilt with a big yellow cat named Doc. Doc found me late one night after a gig. He was filthy and one ear was torn, but he had a soulful vibe about him that was irresistible. So I took him in.

That very night, I decided Doc needed a bath. So I ran some warm water in my kitchen sink. You know how cats hate being submerged in water? Well, when I placed Doc in that warm water, he not only didn’t resist, he began to purr. And later, when I took him to the animal hospital—same thing. When the vet gave him a shot, he was purring as the needle went in. The vet said she’d never seen anything like it.

Doc and I spent seven wonderful years together. But in late 1997, he developed some tumors around his lungs, so I had to put him down. My grief was so great, I swore I’d never have another pet. So I remained petless for the next twenty years.

Then last January, I read on my neighborhood message board about a ten-year-old cat named Zoe. Her owners were looking to find her a home, since they were moving into a building in New York that didn’t allow pets. I was shocked when I found myself agreeing to adopt her.

Zoe the cat

Zoe could not be more different than Doc. Whereas Doc was sweet and cuddly, Zoe is more standoffish. Words fail me in describing Zoe. Everything—I mean everything—is on her terms. Even affection. But she’s starting to grow on me.

I recently saw a film about cats at the Belcourt. It was called Kedi (Turkish word for cat). Evidently, hundreds of thousands of cats have roamed the streets of Istanbul for centuries, living in harmony with the people who live close to the street. At one point an old man says, “Dogs think people are God. Cats know better.”

Marshall Chapman is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter, author, and actress. For more information, visit www.tallgirl.com.

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