I like taking walks. Wandering along paths with the sky above me, surrounded by trees and grass, is, for me, soothing. My mother says that, when I was still very small, when I cried and cried, she would take me outside, and I would go still, staring up at the trees. Outside is a place of peace for me.
A few weeks ago, I decided to go out to the goat pasture nearby. It's where my mother used to walk when she was my age. She had taken me there a few times, so I know the way. I set out across the field towards the gate, and I had barely passed the little pond when Sparkle came trotting up to me. She is, perhaps, the sweetest of our cats. I petted her a little and continued on my way. When I reached the fence a few minutes later, she was still following me. I didn't want to lead her off of the property, so I walked back to the little pond, Sparkle following me loyally. I sat down at the edge of the pond, and, after she had determined that I was not going to fall in and drown, Sparkle settled down in the shade of a tree. For a while I prodded some pond scum with a stick, at least until I felt certain that Sparkle wouldn't follow me.
I made my way back to the fence, refusing to look back in case that might encourage her. When I reached the fence, she was at my feet again. Maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't cross the fence. I climbed up and over the fence and continued on my way. A few yards later I heard panting so loud that it could have been my grandparents' Labrador. It was Sparkle. She looked up at me and mewed quite quietly. Looking down at her, I knew she would follow me all day, even if it killed her. It was ninety degrees outside. She'd pass out from dehydration and exhaustion. I picked her up and carried her all the way home. She wasn't happy about that. Sparkle is not one for holding still for long periods of time, especially when she's being held against her will.
I opened the back door, and she sprang from my arms, nearly tumbling down the stairs to the cool basement. Promptly, she located a shadow and flopped over, still panting. My mother and I sat down beside her. Despite her excessive panting, Sparkle still insisted on purring as she was petted.
We set a bowl of cool water beside her and talked a little.
"Having cats is like having children, isn't it?" I commented, watching Sparkle's heaving side as she stretched out so that she could rest her chin on the floor too. It did make sense. Cats will follow you about just because they love you, as will children, and, just like with Sparkle, having children often means you can't go where you want or do what you want, but you don't really mind all that much.
"Yes." There was a laugh in my mother's eyes. A laugh that said "More so than you know."