Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tales From A Therapy Cat- On Helping My Human On Depression

Meow! For those who are not regular readers of this blog- my name is Holly. I am a 12 year old tan tabby cat who lives with Susan. I am not trained as a therapy cat, but I take care of her and keep her alive. She adopted me when I was four, and considered unadoptable. I love her more than anything except when my head is in a bowl of tuna.

My human is just starting to get out of her depression. At least that is the word she uses. I don't know what it is, cats don't get depressed. We might get sad if it is a rainy day and there is no sunshine to nap in and warm our fur. We might get upset right before barfing a hair ball, or the mean doggie across the street barks at us.

All I know is my human wants to stay in bed all day. That would be fine if she was a kitty like me, but humans can't sleep all day. They have to get up and feed us, change our litter box and adore us, lest we let them forget we were once worshipped as Gods in Egypt. So I bite her arm or her leg, to get her up, and go to the kitchen. Those cans of tuna don't open themselves.

She stumbles around and feeds me, changes my water and my litter box. She makes a cup of coffee for herself. When it's ready, and she adds the sugar and cream, she sits at the table. I jump on the tabletop and look at her, staring until she pets me. She strokes my fur and I purr for her getting louder and louder. Eventually she smiles, and tells me I am the best cat in the world. She's feeling a bit better. I am happy.

When she adopted me, I did not purr. I lived in a house with a foster mother and 14 other cats. The other cats didn't like me, I spent a good deal of my time under the bed, cowering in fear. I would only eat when my foster human would walk me to the kitchen and make sure the other kitties wouldn't interrupt me. For years after mom adopted me, I would only eat when she walked into the kitchen. I still am partially like this, I need her to walk to the kitchen so I can eat, but I can eat now if she isn't with me. But I would rather eat with her in the room. It's comforting.

I bite her, not hard, on her arm or feet. Her feet are all swollen with edema, from her kidney medication. She is sad because her feet don't fit into her shoes, and she wants to wear something more than flip flops.

Usually her depressive episodes don't last more than  few days at a time. This last one lasted over a month. She just lies in bed, unable to do anything but stare at the ceiling and cry. I try to make her happy, I lie in the bed next to her, trying to snuggle, trying to get her to pet me to make me purr. I bite her softly to get her to feed me when my tummy rumbles. She doesn't get it. She won't pet me. Cats may be aloof, but we want to be petted and told we are wonderful. She doesn't want to eat, or play or do anything with me. It makes me sad. Even my cutest faces don't make her smile.

I feel bad for her. Then I purr a little louder, nudge her and meow. I bring my catnip mousie to her and plop it on her face. She moves closer to me, holds me and tells me what a good kitty I am. I follow her to the bathroom, and do my  cute dance in the bathtub. She finally gets it, and takes a bath. She feels better. I watch her clean herself off, put on clean clothes, and make her go to the kitchen. She feeds me, and changes my box. I eat some,wash the bits of food off my face and whiskers, and then run to the couch, meowing at her to sit down with me. She turns on the TV and we watch something, not really watching, but she starts grooming me, and tells me I am keeping her alive and she loves me.

She loves me. I love her. She starts to feel a bit better each day- just for a little bit, but each day the little bit lasts longer and longer, until finally this week, she's moving around on her own for most of the day, and taking care of herself without my help. That makes me happy, to see her happy. When she's happy she gives me hugs and when she goes to the store she comes back with more Fancy Feast and a brand new catnip mousie for me to shred.

I love her. She says that I keep her alive, I am her therapy cat. I don't know about that, but she also keeps me alive. She needs me as much as I need her, I love her as much as she loves me. She saved my life, I help her reclaim hers. That is all I can do as a cat.


Ami said...

Aww, your kitty is a great writer. And it's obvious you're loved.

susan said...

HI Ami, thank you. I will tell her about your comment as soon as she wakes up from her pre-nightime nap. All that typing made her very tired. ;)

Becky said...

Good work Holly!

susan said...

Meow Becky and my kitty friend Belle!

midnight rainbow said...

Holly, we know all too well what your job is like. With 6 therapy dogs and 2 therapy cats and it is still tough for all of us to get our human going. But we are here for her and she is there for us and that's the best we can do for each other.

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

Well done Holly ...meow meow you rock!

Southernbelle said...

I love it--and my Sweetpea loves to see that her beloved cousin Holly writes almost as well as her Auntie Susan!! Holly, please tell Mommy we are SO happy she is feeling better, that we love both of you very much, and that we think the two of you are a match made in Ceilin Cat heaven!! :-) Purrs and headbonks from Sweetpea (who also got a special treat last nite!!) and big hugs from me! :-) :-) :-)

Anonymous said...

I have a therapy cat too. She keeps me going despite all the disappointments I have had lately. Thanks for the wonderful story. It made me appreciate my kitty.

susan said...

@Midnight Rainbow, wow! Six dogs and two cats! How do you fit all your therapy critters on your lap? I would love to have a bunch of critters! I am glad you have therapy animals too.

@Tinkerbell, you rock too! Meow meow.

@Southernbelle and cousin Sweet Pea, meow!

@Anonymus, I am glad you have a therapy cat and it helps you. I think we are both very lucky to be owned by such wonderful animals.

Anonymous said...

Yay, Holly! Great job on writing and on taking care of your purrson.

I am hoping to get a psychiatric service dog/autism assistance dog soon to help with my disabilities, and I hope that he or she will be as helpful to me as you are to your mom!


Gianna said...

lovely post Susan...hug Holly for me.

It's Sunday morning...I hope your faired well through the storm.


David said...

This reminds me so much of domino. I've been really depressed the last week and domino has been trying his hardest to get me out of my slump. Like holly, domino is my therapy cat, without him I don't know if I would have made it through the last year, its been absolute hell, but domino has been there for me, even when I ignore him because it takes to much energy to function, he runs over time meows, jumps on me, nips me and tries his hardest to get up to play with him.

Thank you for posting this because it reminded me how much domino means to me and how much he has helped me the last year.

I hope you and Holly are doing well.

Hang in there :)


SMH said...

I love your therapy cat Holly, I think we all need a theray cat like Holly! Unfortunately my family are all allergic to cats so we can't have one :(

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog. I'd been having a really tough week before I found your blog. It's fantastic knowing we're not alone in this.

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