My cat saved my life.
No, he didn’t pull me from a burning house or save me from drowning in a pool; he saved me from myself and continues to do so daily, as I battle with mental illness.
Simba (yes, that’s his real name!), came to me as a scrawny, flea-ridden, sick, stinky kitten back in November 2010. He was rescued by a Melbourne animal welfare group from a pound in rural Victoria along with 5 other kittens. I had started volunteering as a foster carer and this lot were my first charges. He reminded of me of Kimba the White Lion but thinking Kimba was too ‘girly’, he became Simba.
Simba wasn’t the cutest kitten. He had these huge ears that were far too big for his head. He had a pointy face and an unfortunate case of ringworm, which had left him with patches of hair loss all over his body.
Months passed and Simba started growing into his ears; his hair had grown back too. Most of his foster siblings had been adopted and new ones would come and go. By this time, I’d formed a pretty strong bond with Simba and his almost-twin brother, Samson. Despite my efforts of finding them a home, they were both constantly over-looked. No one was interested in giving them a chance, it broke my heart.
I had decided that when one of the boys were adopted, I was going to keep the other one. My partner at the time and I had a cat, Peach, so I was already pushing my luck by adding another one to the family, otherwise I would have taken them both! I had a soft spot for Samson, he was an anxious thing, very smoochy and unlike scrawny Simba, he was a little bit rounder which contributed to his cuteness.
Fate decided that Samson was the one to be adopted first. The couple who adopted their brother a few months prior decided they wanted to adopt again, and who better than one of his brothers! Although sad, I was overjoyed at the thought of Samson being reunited with his other brother – and I got to welcome Simba to my family, officially.
Once Samson had gone, Simba and I started to form an even stronger bond. He’s not much of a cuddler or a lap cat so would show his affection in other ways. He started sleeping on my head, would greet me at the door when I got home with his over-excited meow and even follow me to the toilet and jump on my lap (brave boy!). I tried to change his horribly, thought-of name but it was too late. He’s now affectionately known as Sim or Simmy; Simba when he’s in trouble.
Since June 2011, Sim has been by my side through the highs and the lows. He’s tolerated the hundred other foster kittens, cats and even dogs. He’s got me through break-ups, new relationships, work, study and numerous episodes of depression and anxiety.
He got me through my darkest days, the days when I was too ashamed to confide in my friends. He knew how I felt, he lived through it too. He never judged though, he would be by my side purring his little head off, letting me know everything would be okay.
Every time I’ve felt like giving up, he was my reason to keep on going. Mostly because I knew he wouldn’t cope without me. There was no one in this world I trusted to love and care for him as much as I did. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him, the cat that loved me unconditionally, every single day – even when I annoyed the absolute the shit out of him.
His soft fur and gentle purrs ground me. Almost instantly my anxiety eases when he’s around, he’s my furry, four-legged anti-depressant. Honestly, if I could carry him around in a bag and take him everywhere, I’d be okay. Rather ironically though, he too suffers from anxiety so that’ll never be an option.
My friends and family have joked about his ‘obsession’ with me and it is funny. I’m chuffed he’s chosen me. Sim brings so much happiness, cuteness, and white fur into my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I might have saved Sim’s life but he also saved mine.
Is there a (furry) friend in your life that has helped you through the hard times? Feel free to share your story in the comments below!
PS. A pet can be a great companion for someone struggling with their mental health. Check out PetRescue for a list of awesomely, adoptable animals because rescue pets are best!