Not everyone loves pets. Some people just don’t. If you are a pet lover, like me, you don’t get it. But I’m not judgemental. 

I grew up with having only dogs as pets. My mom is allergic to dogs and cats, but she realised she can’t keep this experience from us, so she compromised. We could have a dog, but dog stays OUTSIDE. But she will never condone any animal cruelty and she was always willing to feed the dog if she needed to.

Cats on the other hand were never, ever even considered. Mom (still) doesn’t like cats, and she never will. Unfortunately for her, the (negative) feelings are not mutual. Cats always – without exception – choose my mother to go to. Maybe they like her panicky trampling around, hiding behind my dad or chairs or walls or so… I don’t know.

Being a dog lover myself, I ended up marrying a cat lover and having to get my dog to love my husband’s cat. They still don’t like each other. But they co-survive, and I managed to fall in love with the science of cats, as I call it. The silent presence just showing up when least expected, the unspoken wisdom in those big beautiful eyes… just fascinates me. My husband’s cat family shrunk from  three to one  – due to illness and age and not my doing!

My “daughter-by-marriage” (we don’t like using the s-word) asked us to take in her cat when she went abroad to work as an au pair for a year. But a little while after the extended family extended some more when her cat surprised us with a litter of small furry ones… and I became enamoured with my little furry babies and loved raising them!

There were another two litters since, but that’s a story for another day.

I already knew how soothing and therapeutic the presence of a pet in your home could be, especially when you have suffered depression for such a long time like me. My dog, a Cocker Spaniel who is currently 13 years old and still going strong, made me realise that a dog (or essentially any pet) can truly be man’s bestest friend. He knows exactly what is going on in my life. Whether I am happy and cheery and life is good to me, or when I am teary and sad and depressed… he really senses my moods and will react accordingly, never leaving my side when I feel sad and alone. 

Even when my first marriage turned abusive, he proved to me that he is 100% loyal to me. Being a Cocker Spaniel who are known for their kind, loving personality, he would never turn aggressive towards any human or animal. But I remember clearly the times he jumped in between me and my abusive ex to keep him from hitting me. And he knew very well that, abusive as the man was towards me, he would never hurt him (the dog). Up to this day, he never leaves my side or goes far from me. 

When I became a cat mommy, I learned that the truth about dogs is also true about cats. They are a very intelligent species and can sense (maybe even more so) your moods and the atmosphere surrounding your home.

One of the babies I raised, a ginger cat named Uju, took it upon himself to be my guardian alongside my dog. Whenever I feel depressed, sad and lonely… he just silently turns up and curls up next to me. Rubbing against me, purring even licking my hands. And it’s almost if I can sometimes “feel” the healing vibes coming from him, willing and wanting me to feel better. Yes, of course they do this when hungry too, but he is quite vocal about his eating habits.

One time, he was chased by another cat and got lost. He were missing for a month and I was literally SICK for a month! I spoke to him in my thoughts, urging him to come home. I prayed for him to come home. I searched the area, I followed up every lead on found cats… until I found him and took him home. Everybody said I should keep him indoors for a month, but I couldn’t. Partly because I thought this was a bit cruel and partly because it was just too difficult with other cats living in the home as well and having to leave a window open for them to come and go as they please. 

So I talked to him and said: If you want to go, I won’t keep you. But if you want to stay, then stay close. Because I will never be able to live through another period of time like this again. 

So he stayed. Because he cares. Because he knows what I’m thinking and feeling. 

Suddenly the year that started out so dark and hopeless, turned into sunlight and summer and joy.

Maybe he just likes it here, and maybe I’m a bit crazy.

But… Find yourself a pet – it’s worth it!