I believe in dreams. I believe in intuition, especially female intuition. I believe in the subconscious. Last Tuesday I had a dream about an orange and white kitten named Camille who talked to me. Bizarre, yes. But compared to my dreams, this one was rather tame. The last dream I had involved a singing pig at a country fair who bit my eye. I don't know what this means, and I don't really think I want to know. Some dreams are worth interpreting, others should be left alone.

I decided that my kitten dream was telling me that the time was right for me to adopt my own. I had wanted to for ... well, as long as I can remember. While I was in college, I rented apartments where animals were forbidden, except for fish. I did win a fish at the Dogwood Festival in town a few weeks ago, but it didn't last through the night. Anyway, fish aren't my thing. I like big dogs, like Great Danes and Doberman (my brother owns a Doberman named Klyde - sweetest dog you'd ever meet, completely ruins the myth that Dobermans are vicious attackers. I'm sure he could do some damage if someone compromised the safety of the family, though.) After graduating college, I moved into a house where pets are allowed, but not large breeds of dogs. I don't think I'm at the point in my life where I could dedicate the time and energy - and money - to raise a puppy, anyway.

When it comes down to it, I am a cat girl, through and through. I believe the dream was my subconscious telling me that I am ready to handle the responsibility of taking care of another life.

With this in mind, my roommate and I visited the SPCA in search of an orange and white kitty I could name Camille and take home. There were several kittens fitting this description, but another one caught my eye. Patrick is a white kitten with a stripe of gray on his head that can be spiked up, giving him a mohawk. Adorable! He looked at me with his olive colored eyes, and I turned to putty. Someone had adopted his brother and he was left alone in the cage. How could I just leave him there? I couldn't. Moments later, he was in the car on the way home with me.

He is the perfect kitten. He isn't frightened of my roommate's overly excited cockapoo puppy, Turtle. He began using the litter box immediately. He curls up on my shoulder at night to sleep. I can't get over how incredible he really is.

Like I said, I believe in intuition and instinct. Even though I'd only known Patrick for a day, I instantly knew when his attitude changed that something was wrong. Everyone told me that he was all right and behaving like a normal kitten, getting used to his environment. Something told me it was more. I waited it out as long as I could, which was a day, before I was on the house phone with the receptionist at the animal hospital, my cell phone with my mother, and had my roommate call her vet student friend, Becky.

I took Patrick to the hospital and found that he was indeed sick. Thankfully, he tested negative for the major diseases to which kittens are susceptible. But he is suffering from several different ailments of his upper respiratory and gastro-intestinal systems. Eventually, his symptoms began showing themselves in ways I'd rather not mention. I've got a messy situation on my hands, I'll leave it at that.

I've never had to take care of anything on my own before. I've had pets, but always while living with my family. My responsibilities would include taking the dogs for a walk, making sure they were fed and playing with them when the impulse hit me. With Patrick, it's completely different. I have to give him medications every day, comfort him and deal with the somewhat uncomforatable manifestations of his illnesses.

I know certain things about myself. I'm not very domestic. I'm selfish. I dress up for no reason. I despise dirty, gross things. I don't cook. If a wet, muddy dog comes running my way, I push him away before he can put paw prints on my skirt. I like to make my own schedule and live by my own rules. I do not like obligations. Sometimes I need to tune out the rest of the world and crawl into a hole - figuratively speaking, of course. There would be bugs and dirt in a hole, and that's just not me.

Patrick brings out a side of me that I've never let surface before. I don't mind cleaning up his messes when he's sick. I'll stay home when my friends are going to the beach to look after him. I'll spend half of my paycheck on vet bills if that's what he needs. I'll wear a T-shirt and sweat pants (ugh!) all weekend and let him cuddle on my lap. In fact, I did do all these things, ungrudgingly, and I'd do it again.

Some would say that Patrick is just a cat, not a baby, and the real maternal instincts in me will come out if and when I give birth. Don't worry, Dad, that's not going to happen any time soon. But I do believe that a more adult, less selfish version of myself is showing itself. I may not be a real mother, but Patrick is my baby and I will do all it takes to nurse him back to health, even if it means retiring my "girly girl" status and breaking off the tip of my maternal iceburg.

I believe in instinct and impulses, and they cannot be ignored.

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