Growing up, we had seven cats. We were suckers for strays, the big baby eyes of kittens. We also had lemons for cars, bought encyclopedias from door-to-door salesmen. Uncle Jim would come over, his eyes glassy, his breath malted, and plead with mom and dad, just a twenty, I’ll pay it back next week. The cats would never go near him. He’d stick around for an hour or two, make pointless conversation until my mother—his sister—relented. Then he’d leave. The cats would reappear, doe-eyed for treats. Never again, said my parents, hopeless.