Love has whiskers…

1st pictureCN: mention of suicidal thoughts

Five years ago this past Saturday, two white kittens were born. I, of course, had no idea of this. I had no intention of getting kittens any time soon. I had bought my wedding dress the day before and plane tickets to visit my fiance in England two weeks earlier. My life was planned out in ways that did not involve kittens in Canada. We’d roughly planned most of our small wedding and ogled wedding rings (he’d urged me to get my finger sized as soon as possible). We even picked out which town to live in. I just needed to save up and stay sane. Unfortunately the latter one was proving to be increasingly difficult.

I admitted that I was suicidal at the beginning of May and he broke up with me two days later. Then I finally went into the hospital a month later and he blocked me everywhere the morning after I was released.

2nd pictureTo say I was devastated would be an understatement. We’d been friends for half a decade and best friends for most of that. I trusted him completely and implicitly. He knew my deepest secrets and I’d felt that he’d always be there for me. Always turned out to be a very short time. Breaking up is horrible at the best of times, breaking up while deeply depressed and suicidal is absolutely horrific. And throwing my best friend into the mix made it even worse. I remember one night, messaging a friend and begging her to please stay online and chat with me. I wanted to die so badly and the urge to jump was so strong. I couldn’t do it while Colin was there but he was at Youth Group for another half an hour. The balcony pulled like a magnet and the thought, “just a moment [in the air] then it’s over” looped on repeat. Thankfully she stayed on messenger and chatted until Colin was home and I felt safe enough. I honestly don’t think I’d be here if she hadn’t. And then I had a dream.

It was one of those dreams that faded almost as soon as I woke up, leaving only the smallest pieces behind. And one of those small pieces was the image of a white cat. It lingered with me all morning right through us heading out, me to the lab for bloodwork and Colin to the pet supply store for, well, pet supplies. I noticed a cat adoption sign outside as I walked past and thought of that white cat then I decided I couldn’t be that lucky. I was unlucky in one way, the lab had stopped serving people who weren’t patients at that clinic, but I was lucky in another. When I asked Colin if there was a white cat up for adoption he informed me the only cats there were two white kittens. We immediately went to take a look.

Of course we held them. Of course we fell in love. And while I was waffling hard about which one to choose, Colin came up with a plan. Why didn’t we each adopt one? And so we did. It wasn’t that simple. They only took cash which necessitated a run to the grocery store and multiple transactions before we had enough paper money to cover both their fees. And we ran into Dollarama to pick up supplies to kitten proof my balcony (it was like the Fort Knox of balconies… I kitten proofed up to 6 feet, you know, in case they could jump really high).

And soon we were home, watching them nose around, sticking closely together. Our other three cats stuck together too and watched those little balls of fluff roam around. Thankfully everyone settled in soon.

For anyone who’s suicidal, I can’t recommend kittens strongly enough. One of them gets lonely… you can get three if you really want to spice things up… but two is perfect. Smudge and Lara were so small when they got here, small enough to crawl under the dresser and bookcase. And both still wanted to nurse. Smudge latched on (literally) to my stuffed lamb Rufus while Lara suckled on a bemused Blackie’s chest fur. Which was cute except they’d forget to go eat real food. Instead their nursing got more and more frantic as their hunger increased. I was already restless and awake multiple times a night but now it was with purpose. I was listening for that frenetic sucking then lifting them over to my side table where I’d placed their kitten food and a little bowl of water. Then I’d wait for them to finish and ferry them back to bed. This happened until dawn, which is damn early in the summer, when they wanted to go outside and play on my balcony. And I’d sit with a mug of hot chocolate and watch the sunrise and enjoy them playing with toys and each other.

The biggest part was that they needed me. I was lost. I couldn’t find myself. I wasn’t sure I was even worth finding. They didn’t care. They loved me and trusted me implicitly. I remember waking up once as Smudge, who was rolling around on her back, rolled right off the edge of the bed. And I caught her. It was one of those “I can’t believe I managed that” moments. Then I looked into her eyes and all I saw was trust. She had complete faith in me that I’d always catch her… that I’d always be there for her. It was definitely a moment for me, a realization that I couldn’t just off and kill myself. I could make excuses for family and friends that they have other people around… people with stronger connections… but that trusting innocence? She would never understand why I was gone and why I never returned – and no one could explain it to her.

I’ve got friends and family who love me dearly but, honestly, it’s not the same. Love often comes with strings attached, like guilt or embarrassment. Animals just give you love. They loved me for me. Not who I should be, not who someone thinks I am, not who I was ten or twenty or thirty years ago. Me. Right here, right now. They’re the glue that’s been slowly help stick this heart back together again, one piece at a time.

3rd pictureLara is the clown of the two. She’s chubbier and the one people see the most as she runs for the door as if it’s for her. She also likes to check in on zoom calls. I often have scratch marks on my arms and legs as she pats me for attention and doesn’t always remember to retract her claws. And she’s also the sweetheart of the group. If one cat’s going to be snuggling with another, you can be sure Lara was the instigator and often the one grooming too (as you can see in their birthday photo).

Smudge is the quiet introvert. She sleeps on my swing chair or perches on the table above everyone. She’s the only one who does either and I’ve long since given up on the table as she jumps back up the second I put her down (over and over). When she gets tired of the world, she retreats to a box in my closet, which she lies on. I’ve padded it with a soft dog blanket now to make it comfy. She play fights with Lara and gets along with the others but otherwise stays alone. Except for me. Every time I sit in the swing chair she lies on my chest, purrs in my ear, drools into my hair, and waits for a belly rub. She does this so often that one side of her is faintly blue from rubbing against my hair.

Smudge and Lara were born on the Vernal Equinox, the time when day and night are equal. A time of promise for more light and hope ahead. For two cats who spread joy to everyone who meets them, I can’t imagine a day more suited for their birth.

Happy 5th birthday! You two are the best kittens ever and deserve all the skritches and all the treaty-treaties and all the crinkle balls and plastic springs. I wish you many more happy years and I’m looking forward to spending them with you.

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