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“Hi Puff!” I exclaimed excitedly as my cat Teenie greeted me at the front door with a loud, jubilant meow. Puff was one of her nicknames, but she was actually a short-haired cat with light gray fur and a small amount of white fur. This was the greeting that I received every weekday afternoon from 2008 to 2010. I was attending community college at the time. I had classes during the day in most of my semesters. As a result, I would always return home around 5:00 PM at the latest. I was satisfied with this because I didn’t want to go anywhere at night. I preferred being in the comfort of my own home after dusk.
Speaking of not wanting to go anywhere and enjoying the comfort of home, I’m an introvert. This was why I’d just go back home after my class or classes were over for the day. I was in my twenties and still living in my parents’ house. Being a college student is an exciting part of our lives (or at least, society paints this picture). We get our own places and party hard. However, being the introvert that I am, I didn’t do either of these things. I had no desire to live on my own and I didn’t have enough money to move out. I never got invited to parties, which was completely okay with me because I didn’t like to socialize and I wasn’t a big drinker. An occasional small cup of wine or a small cocktail suited me just fine. Additionally, I didn’t have a job at the time. I knew this was uncommon and probably viewed as lazy since college students work hard to earn money on top of trying to get their diplomas. But I discovered that I have a low tolerance for stress, so I just wanted to concentrate on getting through college then focus on getting a job afterwards.
Do I resent the fact that I wasn’t a normal college student? My answer is a resounding “No.” I was able to spend those years with a wonderful cat and create precious memories that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. To me, spending time with Teenie was SO much more valuable than partying. Cat owners like me know that cats unfortunately won’t be with their owners for the rest of their lives. For this reason, owners need to spend as much time with them as they can.
I think most introverts would agree with me when I declare that a cat is an introvert’s best friend. There are striking similarities between us and cats. The things that really stand out to me are: quiet noises, fear of strangers, and relying more on body language than oral communication to convey feelings. A cat’s meow isn’t very loud at all unless he or she is begging for food or attention or is angry or unwell. Introverts aren’t much different— we tend to speak softly, especially when we’re feeling uncomfortable in social situations. Furthermore, most cats run and hide when they encounter a human that they aren't familiar with. Again, introverts react in almost the same manner. If we need to talk to a stranger, we manage to do so, but we’d much rather run and hide from said stranger until he or she leaves our territory. I find the body language topic to be the most interesting of these similarities. Us introverts would rather not talk unless we need to. We want people to figure out what emotions we’re experiencing without having to speak. It seems that cats have the same idea.
After Teenie would welcome me home, she’d wait for me to sit down in the family room so she could lie on my lap. I remember that she would look up at me with those eager emerald eyes then pace around the room. Being the honor student that I was, I got right to studying after I came home. I was the complete opposite of a procrastinator. For instance, if I had to write a paper I would start doing research for it up to four weeks in advance. Teenie would either curl into a ball or stretch out once she was on my lap. I always thought it was adorable when her small cat body was sprawled out on me. This would normally be annoying to someone who was trying to study, but I discovered ways to work around it. It was fairly easy to do so when I was working on a desktop computer; Teenie wouldn’t stand up and attempt to walk across the keyboard. However, it was harder to do so when I was sitting in an armchair; I had to push my textbook and folder to the edge of my lap so that I could still see what I was reading, underline sentences, and write on my syllabus. Teenie would get a tiny bit perturbed if I didn’t occasionally stop to pet her. I felt like she was saying: “Hey! I can see you’re doing human stuff, but I’m on your lap for a reason!” Haha!
Teenie passed away on January 12, 2012. She was with me for eleven years. I’ll never forget those years of my life. I believe that best friends don’t always have to be human. Sometimes an animal can have as much of a positive impact on our lives as a person can. I can definitely say that Teenie was my best friend. She was always there for me when I needed her; she’d comfort me when I was sad, lonely, or sick. R.I.P. Teenie. You were—and always will be—an introvert’s best friend.