Furry Life Saver
“Why are you so obsessed with me?” – My Cat
I can’t remember a time when my house wasn’t filled with pets. Even as a full-grown adult (kind of), we have a mini zoo waiting for me every day after work. My babies all have very different personalities and span across a nice spectrum of creatures. From the sweet to the grumpy, the soft to the scaley, the old to the young, the cuddly and lazy to the energized hyper, we have a little bit of everything. Need a furry friend? No worries, we have two cats and a dog. Need a rigid reptile? Got it, we have a bearded dragon. Need an aquatic amigo? Tootsie the turtle has it covered. I think you get the point. But the main purpose here is to better understand how my animals keep me sane…and alive.
Growing up, I had bunnies, and fish, and hamsters, and family dogs, and my sister had a cat, but none of these animals were one-hundred percent mine. Not until I got Gus, my first born (or “my cat” as normal people would say). Gus is my perfect, tolerant, sweet and sassy, 4 (almost 5) year old baby that acted as my heart beat and kept me alive in some of my darkest days.
I was home for the summer after my sophomore year and I was struggling. I was more depressed than ever. I was too old to play travel softball (my first true love). I was dealing with a super unhealthy, on again off again, relationship. And I was having panic attacks almost daily due to stress about money and going back to school and working in a restaurant and anything else I did that included leaving my house. My anxiety was at its peak so I, as any millennial would do, googled ways to reduce anxious symptoms, specifically panic attacks. The first article I read was about cats and how owning a cat can somehow decrease a person’s likelihood of having heart problems. My heart felt broken in more than one way, which fell in the “heart” problem category, so I continued reading and researching. I ventured into the article more and found out that a cat’s purr can actually alleviate anxiety from the vibrations. Plus it said something about smart people owning cats, so the only logical response for me was to get a cat.
One of my best friend’s was seeing a guy and she invited me to a bonfire with her at his house. Long story short, his outdoor cat had just had kittens (talk about perfect timing). I am super picky so obviously I had a specific colored cat in mind and I asked if there were any male, orange babies in the litter. Out of the four kittens, 2 were all black, 1 was black and white, and one was *drum roll please* male, orange, and absolutely perfect.
I held that kitten for the first time when he was probably only about a week or two old and I instantly fell in love. I knew that this little ball of fur was going to be the most important thing in my life in about a month and I could not be happier about it. I visited him as often as my friend visited her boo and I made sure that little baby knew I would be his new mom.
On June 26th, I got the text saying the kittens were ready and I could go pick up my furry best friend. So I did what any other person would do and I announced to my parents I was going to get a kitten. My dad, the constant voice of reason, was weirdly okay with my announcement and I did not want to take a chance and inquire about his unusually calm response. I drove to pick up the kitten with my best friends from college who were in town for a birthday celebration, and the 5 of us, walked out with my orange perfection…and the three other kittens (one to Michigan, one to southern Ohio, and one to Chicago).
Since that very day, that cat has been my everything. He went to college my junior and senior year (illegally) and was the support and companionship I needed to keep myself from going insane…literally. He has seen me at my very lowest of lows and has witnessed some pretty high highs and knows exactly when I need him the most. This cat has met more people than I can count, and has seen my best nights (after a pitcher of margaritas) with my favorite people. He has also been a tissue for hundreds of tears, a personal weight for many panic attacks and he has seen me on the absolute verge of giving up.
Some people may think this is extreme, but this fur baby saved my life. He gave me something to live for each day because without me, he would suffer. I needed him more than he ever needed me and he knows it. He knows when I am crying, and he can sense the change in my voice when I am upset. He knew how to act as a weighted blanket before I even knew what a weighted blanket did (and let me tell you, he is 22 pounds of love and cuddles). This kitty got me through a relationship that had no closure, and he was there the day I played my last college softball game, closing out the most important part of my life for the last 20 years. He has been one of the only constants in my life the last 4 (almost 5) years. I encourage anyone that suffers from mental health struggles to find himself/herself/themself a kitten like this one, and never ever let go. My furry life saver, in so many incredible and important ways, is my best friend and my heartbeat and I genuinely have no idea where I would be without him.