I have had cats for most of my life. I have always bonded with them and loved them. When I was a child, I made friends with kids – and adults – who had cats so that I could meet their feline furry friends.
When I moved to Canberra in 2007 to start a new and somewhat corporate life, I initially shared a house with a woman who was also a cat lover. However, this woman was disrespectful and sort of a bully to the humans in her life. For some reason, I saw strong associations between this woman and her two snooty, aloof cats. When I bought my own flat a while later, I vowed and declared that I would not be a ‘crazy cat lady’ like she was.
As time went on, my mental health deteriorated. I spent many months in hospitals and residential services. I struggled to do daily tasks and still have no idea how I managed to keep my job. I met a woman at work who was the local cat rescue lady and offered me one of her cats. At first I declined the offer. Then one day, I was home from work due to my mental illness. I felt terrible. I went outside to take out the garbage and came across a little tabby cat. I patted him and he purred. When I came back home, I realised that while I was patting the kitty I had not felt depressed or anxious. I called my cat rescuing friend and said ‘I want a cat please!’
She came to my house that weekend, with four carriers full of kittens. There were kittens all over my flat. It was immensely lovely (and I wish I’d filmed it and put it on YouTube!!). But none of the kittens ‘spoke’ to me. The last cat was a big adult boy. He was black all over, save for a tiny white smudge on his chest. He had bright yellow eyes and a sleek, shiny coat. I held him to me and he purred and purred. ‘I’m keeping this one.’ I said and we have been each other’s supporter and protector ever since.
Mr Ronnie – or Mr KItty as he is often known – has been a huge factor in my mental illness recovery journey. I now want to come home, whereas before I was terrified of being alone with the ghosts in my house. Mr Ronnie scares the ghosts away. He sleeps on my bed every night and I have never loved anything the way I love my furry boy. My mum says he is a gift from God. I like the idea that God is dispensing kitties to those that need them. Of all the good things that have happened in the past few years – books, TEDx talks, conferences, work successes – Mr Ronnie is by far and away the best. As I often say, there is nothing like the bond between an Aspie and her cat (or dog or horse or snake…)
Photo credit: John Purkis