How would I have survived my childhood and adolescence without animals? I am certain that I would not have survived. From a very early age (There’s a picture of me propped up on the couch with a cat beside me, under 4 months of age.) I was fortunate to always have animals with me. My mother was known as The Cat Woman of Swisher County. When we moved from Amarillo to the farm in 1962, cats came with us. It was not commonplace for people to neuter or even vaccinate their pets at this time. The number of cats expanded exponentially with the space of a section of land (1 square mile). A splinter group hung out at the barn and was more feral. The cats that stayed around the house were pampered with two meals a day and cozy shelters created from cardboard boxes. There was always one dominant Tom, which was usually my favorite cat. People knew where to come to get barn cats or domestic pets. They also knew where to dump unwanted dogs, so we had a menagerie of those over the years. It’s so interesting to me that mother took better care of her animals than her children. As it turns out cat ‘hoarding’ is a mental condition. Some springs we had over 60 cats and kittens. It’s funny how whatever you grow up with seems normal, until you get away from home and observe how other people live.