Tonawanda News

May 12, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Hug your cat and your mom today

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — National “Hug Your Cat Day” is today! This is where you hug your cat in appreciation of their existence. 

Luckily the name of the holiday is straightforward. Hugs are free and they can last a few seconds or a few minutes, depending on the recipient. Julian my cat would happily snuggle for a few minutes, Princeton on the other hand would rather get one pat on the head and then dismiss me. 

With such a simple, authentic American holiday like “Hug Your Cat Day” you wouldn’t think there would be any drama. You would be wrong. With some extra research I have found out that it could actually be May 3, 12 or 30, or June 4. I do know for a fact today is Mother’s Day.

My mother actually is not the biggest fan of critter companions. She doesn’t get the appeal and thinks they smell. I most likely got my animal sense from my grandmother. My mom is the biggest fan of me, however, so she tolerated me keeping my various pets as I grew up. She even got me my first pet, a black cat.

I was around 5 years old and my mother and I got back from a day of grocery shopping. Those of you who have 5-year-olds know what a production it is to go to one store. Fortunately the store was only ten minutes away. 

We pulled in the drive way started unloading the groceries and a black cat approached us. His hair was matted, he was bone thin and hissing. To protect me, my mother selflessly threw a few blueberries at him and scurried me into safety. 

I watched from the window and the cat ate the blueberries. I then went out on the front porch and placed a bowl of water. He drank it quickly.

My mother then loaded me back into the car and an hour later we were back home with a new purchase: cat food. We fed him outside for about two weeks and with a visit to a veterinarian, Jimmy was living inside and acting like a house cat. He lived with us for about 12 years.

Throughout those 12 years other animals made a home in our house. Countless fish, hamsters, guinea pigs and lizards all took up residency in my bedroom. One day when I was at school, my mother took it upon herself to hand feed my pet iguana. She had read on the internet that if they have not eaten for a few days that you could feed them fruit or vegetable baby food to get their appetite on track. With an extra trip to the market, my mom was spoon feeding my lizard. Who says reptiles don’t need a warm caring mother?

Another instance when my mom hand-fed my critter companions was when my cockatiels had four chicks. One or two of them were weaker than the others. We bought Kaytee baby parrot formula and again, while I was at school, my mother warmed up the water, mixed the formula and every three to four hours syringe-fed them until they were strong enough to eat on their own.

Maybe my mom does like animals more than I thought. I bet if she had a cat today she would give it a hug.

Kenny Coogan has a B.S. in animal behavior. Please email your questions to, or search for "Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan" on Facebook.