THE HEALING POWERS OF PETS
I didn’t really grow up around other companion animals much when I was young. My parents and I grew up poor, and our living situation didn’t really allow for that to happen. It wasn’t until I was in high school that my family and I were able to begin taking in and caring for pets. We started with just one. Before long, one became three, which became four, which later became six, and so on. At one point, we had as many as eight cats living with us in our house. Each of them had their own unique life story, and it made for some interesting dynamics as they each gave us some fond memories to look back on later in life after they were no longer around.
All three of us had our favorites that we’d gotten ourselves attached to. I took an instant liking to an adorable shorthaired crème colored tabby cat we called Sunny. When I started living alone 10 years ago, my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to bring Sunny to live with me and keep me company. I agreed. He had mostly been shy and reserved around other cats in the past, and I was so happy to see him come out of his shell and develop more of a personality when it was just him and just me. He became a more lovable and more affectionate cat who could never seem to get enough of me. Seeing him thrive in a situation where he was the only cat in the house confirmed that we’d made the right decision.
Over time, it was clear that Sunny was having some serious issues in his old age. His body was producing too many thyroid hormones, even after he’d had his thyroid removed in surgery, which made it hard for him to maintain a healthy weight. There were times when I would come home and find a mess for me to clean up because he wasn’t always able to make it to his litterbox in time while I was gone. It’s never easy for anyone to do the responsible thing as a pet owner and say goodbye. But he’d lived a good long life, and I didn’t want Sunny to suffer anymore. He was put down in June 2016.
I was very hesitant to take on another cat long after Sunny died. I didn’t think I was ready or that my heart could handle it. I struggle to stay on top of routine housecleaning as it is sometimes where I live. It’s not that I’m a lazy person, and it’s not for lack of trying. It’s just that I need an extra set of eyes or an extra set of hands to point things out to me from time to time, usually things that I wouldn’t ordinarily think of because I have trouble getting out of my own head. I wasn’t too sure I could handle the added responsibility of taking in a new feline companion.
Then an eight-week old black longhaired cat named Oscar came into my life in August 2018 and changed everything. I could feel my whole mood shift the moment he came in the door. He warmed up to me right away, cuddling right up to me and making himself right at home. There’s something to be said about the healing powers of pets. I didn’t realize how badly I had needed another cat until I met Oscar. It was just meant to be. He came along at just the right time. Oscar can usually tell when I don’t feel my best sometimes, physically or mentally. He hardly ever leaves my side when that happens. We take care of each other and keep each other alive. He’s about two years old now, and still as lovable and affectionate as ever.
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