We have been without any pets for a little over a year now.

The bad news is that when you bring animals into you life – in our case, two cats and a dog — within a year of each other, you are likely to lose them all within a year of each other, as well.

And that’s exactly what happened. The good news is that they all lived to ripe old ages – close to 18 years. The bad new is that losing them all so close together was rather traumatizing.

As a result, I have been reluctant to go through that again.

I have lived vicariously for the last two years through my children’s pets. Liz had two cats, but unfortunately she, too, lost one of her while ours were likewise crossing the rainbow bridge. My son, Mac, and his wife have four dogs, plus an orange tabby (my favorite breed) named Hobbes. I reported here how Hobbes came into the family. As a tiny kitten, he stopped in front of Joy’s car, and she could do nothing less than take him home.

Cat and her family had been living vicariously through our pets, so when our last one died, Cat began to think longingly of having a pet of her own again. Her husband, Scott, had held out, but finally agreed that when Cat passed her real estate exam, they would get a cat. I don’t know if he thought it would take her longer than it did for her to get ready for the real estate exam, but she passed on a Thursday and made plans to go to the SPCA on that Saturday. I was surprised that when they visited and sat in the cat room for a while, Cade and Payton didn’t go for the tiny kittens. They came home with a 7-month-old TabbiCo (a cross between a tabby and a calico). They named her Phoenix, and she has turned out to be a really sweet, calm kitty.

Then one day about six weeks later, a friend of Cat’s posted a picture of a tiny black kitty, about six weeks old, that had apparently ridden all the way to her work in her car’s engine block. The friend posted that she had turned the kitty over to the campus security folks because she couldn’t keep it, and the kitty was destined for the pound. Cat couldn’t stand it. Her feeling was that once you have a cat, what’s one more? I think Scott realized he had opened the door, and there was no turning back. So Midnight joined their family.

Then Cat and Scott decided to take the kids on a cruise, and they wanted someone to take care of the cats. And Cat suggested they could just come to my house.

So for five days I was once again a kitty mom.

Cat had warned me that both cats are in the habit of getting up at 5 a.m. She explained that Midnight would likely lay in wait to leap out and attack my feet at every opportunity. She described how she would have to feed Midnight, then move off to another spot to feed Phoenix. Otherwise Midnight will eat Phoenix’s food and then return to her own. Cat said I’d have to do the same if I gave them treats. Now, realize that a Phoenix weighs three times as much as Midnight. I don’t know if Phoenix recognizes that the little kitty is so small, so she’s not willing to bat her out of the way. Or maybe it’s simply that Phoenix is truly a nice, even-tempered cat, while Midnight is always going to be a feisty, aggressive cat who is going to fight to get her way.

In any event, I’m enjoying being a cat mommy again. It’s fun to watch them chase each other around. I’ll admit that I’ve decided I need to set some ground rules. (I’m afraid that with my own cats I didn’t do so well. The problem began with our first dog. We had two cats then, as well. And if I put the cats’ food on the floor, the dog would eat it and then throw up – every time. So I gave in to putting the cat food on a counter in the kitchen. That, of course, led to my cats – all of them over the last 30 years or so – thinking they should have free reign over everywhere in my house. They’d drink from the sink or sometimes the toilet. They’d sleep on the furniture. They would walk on the tables when I wasn’t around, etc.) So with Cat’s pets, I’m working hard to keep them off the counters, to discourage their climbing on the kitchen table, to prevent them from scratching the furniture, etc.

But I haven’t figured out how to keep them from getting in my face when I’m trying to read the paper. Truth be told, when Midnight snuggles up on my neck as she purrs loudly, it’s difficult to tell her no.

As it turns out, I must say I don’t know whether to tell Cat how their visit has gone. For me, when I get in bed to read, both cats happily join me. They groom each other for a while, then they sleep, pressed against each other and against me. This continues until I’m ready to sleep. At some point they both get off the bed and go somewhere else in the house – I know not where.

And the best news of all is that they don’t bother me – not once – until my alarm goes off.

Now, I’m thinking maybe I’m ready to venture back into the world of pets. After a few days with Phoenix and Midnight, I have been reminded how much I loved having cats and dogs in my life.

Maybe it’s time.