Pass the Mayo …. and the Kitty Treats ….

It’s funny that yesterday, Martha wrote a post about how important pets have been for her family in this journey … because coincidentally, I have been thinking a lot about pets, too. (Well, Martha and I are fairly psychic, but that’s another blog entirely!)

Not only have pets been important to the point of being life-changing for my son, as well … but we are also going through a pet-related crisis with my mom right now, that is very specifically related to her issues, too.

By the way, we got an amazing comment on Martha’s post from our newfound friend, who has become known as “Other Martha”. (I’m waiting for a commenter named “Ruth” so we can have an “Other Ruth,” too, but I think the name “Ruth” is even less common than “Martha”!) Please check it out, and please check out all the comments on our posts … there are some incredible conversations going on in our comments sections.

But anyway … I digress ….. (that ADD apple stays close to the tree) …

So. The life-changing power of one pet.

I have always had cats, ever since even before the kids were born. In fact, I grew up with cats, due to my mother’s love for them. So my kids have always grown up around cats, too.

But one kitty in particular changed my son’s life forever.

Bella arrived in our lives when my son was in 7th grade, in the midst of enormous middle school issues on top of our already significant other issues. I recall a lecturer who once said, “Middle school kids are like a pack of hungry wolves looking for deformed caribou.” Well, my son was an injured caribou with a blinking neon arrow on his back saying, “Pick on me! Pick on me!” (Note to self: write a post about how when he finally jumped a kid who was picking on him, the bullying stopped …)

Even though we’d always had cats, he had always been a bit afraid of them approaching them, petting them, etc. In fact, being the sensory- and emotionally-sensitive kid that he was, he was afraid of a lot of things at the time. But then came Bella … a kitten he helped pick out … and suddenly, all that changed.

The bond was instant. And so was the comforting effect.

From that point on, whenever my son was stressed, he had something he could do. He would hug the cat, and instantly calm down.

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To this day … eight years later … she still has that same effect on him. In fact, the first thing he did when I yelled at him the other day (the issues may be getting better, but they’re not perfect, and neither am I!) was to get the cat, to calm himself down.

Because of her, he has now become the Cat Whisperer. He is magic with cats. And they are magic with him.

I know for a fact that Bella has helped him through some overwhelmingly – and I do mean overwhelmingly – difficult times.

My 91-year-old mom has a sweet, gentle and lovely cat, too. And her cat has the same effect for her. My mother’s cat, Johnny (a girl, even though her name is Johnny), is a calming and constantly friendly companion for a woman who is nearly blind, nearly deaf, has a history of anxiety and depression (remember that apple and the tree?),  and who has outlived most of her best friends ……. Old age is not for wimps, people. But pets can provide the same kind of invaluable comfort for the elderly that my son’s cat provides for him and his issues.

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So what’s the problem? Well, my mom is now being told that she has to move from her independent living apartment into assisted living. And, as part of this forced move:

They’re saying she has to give up her cat.

Don’t. Even. Get. Me. Started.

But trust me, I am fighting this tooth and nail (or should I say, claw?).

Because I know the healing power of a pet at ANY age.

And in addition to advocating for my kids (we get great training for that, don’t we?), I am now taking the same skills and using them to advocate for my mom. Nice to know it’s a skill set that we can put to use in other situations.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go look for some mayo. After all, I am smack in the middle of the sandwich generation …

And I’ll look for some kitty treats, too … in acknowledgement of everything pets have done for our family and, hopefully (sharpening my advocate claws….) will continue to do.

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