June is National Cat Adoption Month
In April 2004, I adopted Simba, my first shelter cat. When his cage was opened at the shelter, he took two steps out and immediately jumped into my arms. With that action, he actually adopted me. Little did I know, the path my life would take and how this adorable mini lion king would keep me sane and grounded through challenging times.
A few weeks after Simba’s adoption, my mother collapsed in a store while shopping with my father. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital. After many tests over a number of days, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4B Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was not given a great prognosis for survival.
My mother fought courageously and became a miraculous cancer survivor after six months of chemotherapy and other treatments. Through the ups and downs of the cancer journey, Simba was my furry therapist, offering lots of comfort and love when I needed it most.
Although the cancer vanished, my mother never regained her balance and full physical health. She would require much caregiving support from that point forward.
Over the next five years, I supported my father in his caregiving duties with my mother. Then, one day in 2009, my father had a sudden and unexpected heart failure event that led to vascular dementia. That day would launch my role as the primary caregiver for both of my parents.
During the next year, I spent a lot of time in hospitals and at my parent’s house. I only got to go home for short breaks and to feed Simba. He always greeted me with a joy even after long absences. He even adjusted well to moving into my parent’s house when I made the decision to care for my parents full-time.
Simba then became a welcome companion for us all. Simba was present to comfort me when my Dad passed away, my Mom passed away, and I lost 9 other family members and close friends during a 3 year period.
I attribute my continued sanity and avoidance of long-term depression beyond grief to the affection and love of that fantastic feline.
Sadly, on July 31, 2015, Simba had a sudden and unexpected brain aneurysm and died within a few moments right in front of me. Moments before his death, we enjoyed some cuddle time.
His passing was devastating for me. Simba was my constant support through so much loss and now he was gone.
Over the next few months, I drew comfort from visiting the pets of friends and playing with animals at the local shelter where I adopted Simba. Then, one day I met a beautiful tuxedo cat named Elliot.
Elliot was a sweet boy who had a sad story. He was found abandoned on a stranger’s doorstep in a carrier case that was duct taped completely shut. Fortunately, the home owner heard him crying and saved him.
I forged a quick friendship with Elliot at the shelter and made the decision to adopt him. Welcoming an abandoned shelter cat to my home was an easy and wise choice. Elliot and I love every moment together. It is so wonderful to have a furry grounding force in my life again.
Cats make great companions and quickly uplift the spirits of both caregivers and their loved ones.
If you are considering cat adoption, please check out the great resources at PetFinder.