What have I done?

[This has nothing to do with music, although I could probably find a way if I tried]

For many years, I thought I was a cat person. And then I married a man who loved golden retrievers, and suddenly I became a puppy mama.

From 1980-2003, I had had cats. First there was Kahlua, a big black-and-white cat that was gifted me by a neighbor in my apartment building who said, “Want a cat? I rescued him from someone who was going to drown him, but I can’t keep him.” So I took this little kitten that soon grew into a big tomcat, but was affectionate, sweet, and used to put his paws around my neck and squeeze. (Kind of like Pippin did.)

When my ex-husband and I sold our first house and bought another, we had a gap period where we had to move into the Plaza Hotel in Milwaukee for 6 weeks (and to tell you the honest truth, that was a great way to live, IMO – I was downtown, I didn’t need to drive anywhere, someone cleaned my room once a week for $6 – seriously, if I were single, that’s how I’d live in a heartbeat). So we let his parents take care of Kahlua, and my mother-in-law got really attached to him. And her mental health was such that we felt that if we took Kahlua away without any kind of replacement, bad things might happen.

So when we moved into our new place, we got Mittens, with the intention of giving her Mittens. But then we saw Mittens poised on the top of a door that we’d put at the bottom of the stairs to keep her out of the basement, and we envisioned her systematically climbing upon and knocking things off their open china cabinets. And we decided that it was better for us to keep Mittens for ourselves and let her keep Kahlua. He was eating better with them than he’d ever eaten at our house, anyway.

I adored Mittens. She was also affectionate, and sweet, and seemed to sense anyone who either didn’t like cats or was allergic to them by being in their faces at all time. I imagine that Kitty Heaven is Allergic People Hell – a room full of dander-laden sofas and cats wandering around and sitting in the laps of sneezing people with watery eyes, who finally embrace their fate and start to pet the cats, only for the cats to flounce off in a huff.

I don’t have any pictures of Kahlua, but here’s one of Mittens. I think she had just woken up. She looks a little testy.

Mittens Melinda Thomas-O’Meally

When she died, at the age of 18, I had started my journey as puppy mama to Dave. Dave adored her and followed her everywhere. She didn’t seem to have much use for him, but I came downstairs one day to find her sleeping in a ball upon his head. Unfortunately, I have no pictures.

Most cats I’ve met since then have been unsocial jerks. In fact, I haven’t met them. I’ve been told that there are cats but that they won’t come out because they don’t like strangers. So I thought, “Who wants a pet like THAT? I’ll stick with dogs, thank you very much.”

And so I’ve had Dave –

Dave & Christine
When I became a puppy mama (Dave)

And Pippin –

dog with towel on his head
Pippin, fresh from the bath

And now, Seamus

Dog with birthday hat on
Seamus’ first birthday at Puppy Camp

All of my pets have been… characters. Especially Seamus, as evidenced by the pictures taken on our recent road trip to Arizona and back:

dog in various states of bordeom
Cr9ss-Country Canine

So I decided that if people have cats who are jerks, maybe that’s less of a reflection on the cat than it is the person.

That might seem judgmental.

So we’ve decided to welcome two new additions to our family.

Meet Spike and Charlie. They were rescued by a foster mom for the group Cause for Paws, from someone giving away cats out of a trunk at a Target in Maryland. (Better than Kahlua’s situation, but still.) Also pictured, Seamus forlornly standing at the gate.

Dark Gray cat with big eyes
Lighter gray cat




Dog looking forlornly through door
“Aw, come on, let me in. I want to be their friend.”

(Spike and Charlie are named after the restaurant where Bill and I had our first date.
I honestly remember nothing about it except that it was really noisy and we spent a lot of time saying, “What?” over the music.)

And for the first three days, they … hid under the bed. But now they’re exploring and they are being affectionate. At least toward me, and a bit toward Bill. Bill caught them touching noses with Seamus through the baby gate, but a full frontal meeting has not occurred yet. I’ve tried, but they go back under the bed. But I’m determined that we will all be friends and a family (I rather hate the terms “fur babies” and “fur-ever home” — they make me cringe a bit). And I’m pretty sure that they’ll be characters as well. After all, I’m their kitty mama.

And sometimes I think – What have I gotten myself into? What have I done? What was I thinking? So many people in my age group – whatever that may be – are downsizing and easing toward retirement and travel, and not replacing their pets so that they have more freedom to pick up and go. I have no intention of doing any of those things.

I appreciate that some of my students may have allergies, and during studio hours, they will stay upstairs and I will do my best to keep them out of the studio once they’re ready to leave this room. (This is one of the reasons I want to put a sliding door across the arch to my studio – privacy and to keep out cats.)


If you’re looking for a pet, and want to support a worthy cause, check out Cause for Paws. Whether you want to be a puppy/kitty mama for ever or just as a foster – it’s a good cause. (Hey, that fits with the name…..)

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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