My first cat, many years ago
When I was growing up, I had a cat. I also had problematic parents. But that cat, that darling, black-with-white-socks, quirky, curtain-climbing cat, was the only one in my family that I felt completely safe with. She did not shout at me, although there was an occasional loud meow and some hissing whenever I used the hoover… She did not hurl mental abuse at me, and she didn’t break my toys…. well, actually, she did break some stuff, as she was a cat with sharp claws, razor teeth and strong kicking hind legs, and she loved to play.
That cat didn’t invite her drunken, loud and scary friends over, or pass out drunk on the floor for me to deal with, not even once. I did have to clean up her vomit occasionally when she coughed up hairballs. That was my bad – I should have brushed her coat a bit more often.
She was my friend, my companion, and someone I loved. She made me smile and laugh in the midst of fear and unpleasantness.
One Christmas Day, I lost her. That was 20 years ago, and I miss her dearly. Sometimes, when I am alone and feeling a bit bad, I imagine her walking up to me, gently touching her nose against my upper lip like she used to do every day, as if to say ‘hello, I care about you.’
Why I have my cats now
Many years passed and I was now an adult. A lot of things had happened along the way, and I was depressed. One day, during one of the most difficult times of my adult life, I considered ending my life. It didn’t happen, thanks to a desperate phone call with the Samaritans (please find them here) who convinced me to calm down, go to sleep, and book a doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning so I could get the help I needed.
I slept, saw the doctor, got a diagnosis, and walked out of the hospital, dazed. I was holding a prescription to what would be my first pack of antidepressants. Most things are a blur, but I remember that day very clearly. Walking out of the pharmacy with the meds in my bag, feeling like reality was somehow distorted, amazed and relieved that I had talked and someone had listened.
I went home and for the first time in a while I cleaned my flat. I was missing my dear cat, wishing I could be in her calming presence. I realised that if I was to get better, I needed to have something else in my life that would bring me joy, something I would be responsible for. I searched online for rescue cats and found a bunch of fluffy, black kittens nearby.
I visited a house later that day and they showed me a cardboard box. There were several extremely cute, fluffy-looking black kittens staring at me, meowing and trying to climb over each other. The family who were showing me the kittens could not keep them, and I was there to pick one to take home with me.
I saw something black moving nearby in the living room. It was another kitten, smaller than the rest and with shorter hair, peeking out with his big round eyes from behind a radiator, having escaped the box.
A few minutes later I was carrying a meowing cardboard box in the bus, on my way home. I was excited, and for once my thoughts were on something positive. That was the beginning of my recovery from my first depressive period. Having a cat at home brought stability, routine, positive challenges, and companionship that I desperately needed. It brought me so much joy to watch him grow from a tiny little kitten into a fully-grown, friendly and handsome cat. He still has those same big, round eyes. 😻
When he was about a year old, I decided to get another cat. At this point I was feeling much better, and got my life back in some kind of working order. I thought it would be lovely to have two cats in the household, and they could keep each other company while I am at work.
Fast forward a few years and I have two cats living with me now, big, happy, active boys. They try my patience a lot, and during tough times two cats are not easy to manage! However, I would be totally lost without them, my flat empty and silent. They are always here. The best thing is, when I come home from work, I can see them both through the glass pane of my door, running like mad to get downstairs to greet me even before I’ve walked in, tails pointing up and eager to get a fuss and food.
They sleep next to me in bed, purring, curled up against my back or my legs, often through the whole night.
Cats have played a big part in my life both in my childhood and as an adult. They have grounded me and made me feel better during bad times. They have immensely helped with my recovery journey, and I don’t know if I could have done it without them. That is why they are so important to me. ❤️
Do you have cats, or other pets? Have they changed your life for the better too? 😊