For my family, it's always been cats. My folks had cats before they had kids. Long before they had kids. When I came along, a Siamese queen named Natoa had prior claim in the title of 'eldest' by a whole six months. She apparently decided that I was as much her responsibility as I was my parents'. As I was learning to crawl, Natoa would hide around a corner, wait for me to draw even with her, then she'd leap out of hiding, slap me upside the face a few times (soft paws!), then turn tail and race away. This, my mother tells me, amused me to no end. Natoa stuck around to participate in rearing me until she died when I was 16.
By that time, we'd had Katmai, who gave us two kittens - Skepna and Tyggja (say Tig-ya). They were followed by Pharoah, Isa, Alexander, Leo and Tabitha. Somewhere in there, I grew up, went to college and established a life of my own. Once I did, I needed felines to be the visible soul of my home (“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” ― Jean Cocteau) I was working at a large software company that shall remain nameless and was a member of a group of cat lovers. I'd been doing feline rescue with the group when a woman emailed that she had a pair of kittens who needed a forever home and fast. My husband and I went out to meet with the lady. We walked in. The kittens oozed out from under the bed to come check us out. They looked exactly like my husbands' childhood cat. We ended up going home with that pair of fluffy white kittens and their kitty condo. That was Copernicus and his sister Eratosthenes (Erie). We lost Copernicus at 8 years old to aspiration pneumonia, but Erie is still with us. She'll be seventeen this summer.
The creatures who share our lives change us and encourage us to live up to their considerable expectations, I think...even if I really don't aspire to causing earthquakes. Honest.