The first pet I ever had was a cat. Or rather a wacky, disappearing kitten. When I was 7 or 8-years-old my family and I made a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks in southern Missouri. My father was visiting a National Guard buddy of his that, I believe, owned the hotel named Rocky Point. I don't remember the actual vacation, but I do remember the cabin we stayed in. It was your typical cabin with one bedroom and a fold-out couch in the living room. At some point in the trip I came across a small kitten. He was adorable and I somehow got him in to the cabin and spent the bulk of our trip playing with him. I asked my parents if I could take the cat home with us and they agreed on the condition that I ask the owner if I could have him. That was a devastating blow, as I was a very shy child and the idea of talking to a stranger, or at least a stranger to me, was horrifying. But one look at my kitten was all I needed to muster up the courage. I finally asked the owner of the property and he happily agreed.
On the morning of our last day of vacation we all got up and straightened the cabin in preparation to leave. But my kitten was nowhere to be found. I knew I had brought him in to the cabin, but now he was gone. I was heartbroken and cried the whole way home. We already had one dog and one cat at home, but that was no consolation for the cat that I felt a special connection to.
We named the kitten Rocky after the place we had to visit twice to get him. Rocky lived to be nearly 20-years-old and we had countless good times together. In an odd twist, my parents sent me a birthday card from Rocky, with a lovely inky paw print, that I received on the day he died. I loved that cat. And I love the story of him. It reminds me of how much my parents love me and how a pet really can make such a big difference in your life.