Monday, April 27, 2015

The Shelter Cats and Why I Need Them

Mary. Stella. Simba. These names have been uttered by me an awful lot. They belong to three beautiful cats at the Humane Society nearby.

While they may not mean much to you, they mean the world to me.

First, I love cats. I love all furry animals and even non-furry animals. I have two betta fish at my apartment. There are four cats plus my turtle at my parents house. My favorite animal is the grey wolf. Humane societies? They're awesome for animal lovers.

But this love is not just about loving animals.

It's about needing their care, their affection, their quirks, even their moody days. And them needing me. It's about my anxiety and my need to nurture. It's about personal growth. It's about saving lives. It's about my depression and finding beauty in every single day. This is why I need these cats.

When I first moved to Michigan I was still having high anxiety. It was less than it was in Minnesota, sure, but it was still making life hard for me. I somehow managed to publish An Addictive Personality and pull a 10k Writing Marathon. Progress.

But anxiety caught up to me and I wasn't able to do much else. What was I going to do with my days? I started aching for something to nurture. I wanted something small and warm. I really wanted a pet. And not just any pet. I wanted a cat, a dog, or some kind of rodent larger than a hamster.

Of course, I can't own one. The apartment does not allow pets. This is a common problem.

So here is where the humane society comes in.

We started going there and met all the pretty kitties. They were awesome. I loved them. The more we went... the better I felt.

I felt good enough to restart freelancing.

It was an amazing thing. I began to actually work on things. I started working a little more on Wings and other projects. I did some mturk tasks. I didn't feel like every day was one step closer to a potential anxiety attack.

The more I came, the better I got to know the cats. Mary is described as a "diva." She does not like one too many pets and she wasn't too friendly towards people she didn't recognize. She started warming up. Now every time I can pet her I feel pretty great because I know that it's because I put effort into getting to know her.

Mary taught me a lesson about working to get to know someone. A lot of times people think they know each other long before they actually do. They think they know a lot because they talk a lot and hang out a lot but there are sides that take a long time to see. And so Mary taught me to be patient for those layers to show themselves.

Stella is described in terms much less nice. She has been at the shelter for a very, very long time. After gaining Mary's trust, attention to Stella became a thing. She already understood that I was a frequent visitor, which helped matters. Cats like stability, too.

Eventually, she allowed me to pet her and actually has sat in my lap a couple times. Her biggest thing appears to be trust. Trust and stability.

I don't know much about Stella's past and frankly I don't know if I want to know. Maybe she was just never around humans, but maybe it's something much worse. What I care about is that she has grown and adapted and is well taken care of.

Stella is teaching me about how long it really takes to trust someone and about taking baby steps. She has taught me restraint as I make sure not to pet her when she is likely to be upset. Moreso, she is teaching me how stability of my actions has an effect on others. I feel like this is a very important lesson.

Then we have Simba. Simba is constantly bullied by other kitties. I'm not sure why, though he is a little standoffish. It's widely accepted that a single kitty home might be best for him, especially one where he can be left alone a lot. Simba has taught me about personal space, reading a person's discomfort level, and about how to make yourself seem like a safe person.

I didn't begin to work with Simba until February when I decided to sponsor him. I had already learned some restraint and had grown up knowing how to respect animals, so I wasn't a threat to him. But I also wasn't his friend.

Simba needs a lot of personal space, so I learned how to read the signs about when he needed it. And I knew not to go after him. Because I respected this and took the time to learn about him, but didn't neglect to offer petting and treats, he began to see me as "safe."

Since then, he's still standoffish, but when he sees me he comes to get a head rub. And when other cats are bullying him and my lap is clear, he'll jump on up.

Edited to add: These are my personal opinions and experiences about the cats. Your results/opinions may vary. 

That's actually another thing, all the cats have learned or are in the process of learning that my lap is a no-brat zone. Meaning no batting or growling or hissing at cats to cats on my lap or from cats on my lap. So far it's worked surprisingly well.


And that is why I need them.

Also, because they've helped me so much, I've started to sponsor them. I sponsored Simba in February, Rory in March, and I finally got the funds to sponsor Monica for April! This way I'll help them find new homes.

Oh, a quick update - Not doing no-sugar week this week. Not because "I can't handle not having sugar" but because that's the kind of thing you REALLY need to plan ahead for. I learned this only AFTER checking labels of foods.

Fried food week goes on as planned starting on the 3rd. Because I have more than enough oil and things to fry.

Love the felines in your life,

Oh, and for those of you interested in helping out with the car situation, here is the fancy progress bar and how to help! From what I know of the car, we have definite transmission issues and potential intake problems. And all the cars problems are expensive, so working towards getting a new car would be beneficial.

Apparently there's also the potential of the car exploding. This would be exciting if it didn't mean potential injury/death.

New Car Downpayment

Note: I heard there was trouble with the previous donation box thingy, so much as I'm going to regret putting my email address out on the net, you can send me paypal monies using the email address bbnewgo @ yahoo . com