I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m obsessed with my cat, Sondheim. He’s, pretty much, my most favorite thing in the world, and I’m not even a little ashamed to admit it. I look at him and marvel at how I lived so long without that little fat monster in my life. If you don’t have an animal, you probably don’t understand why people talk about their pets the way we do. I know this firsthand because I used to be pretty anti-animal myself, even though I grew up in a house full of cats. I wasn’t the best pet owner, not by a long shot, so I never saw myself owning a pet as I got older. I knew that I didn’t want the commitment, and I didn’t really think I’d ever be able to care for an animal because I didn’t really ever do it when I had them as a kid. But, as some of you reading this can attest, I’m sure, animals are extraordinarily therapeutic. Sondheim isn’t a licensed therapy animal, but he has given me more comfort in the last three years than I have known in a very long time. Animal therapy is real, y’all.
After being in therapy, and on medication for a while, I started feeling like I needed something more in my life, and it started to seem like that “something” was an animal. My sister and I used to say I should never own a pet because of my temperament, but I knew something was different when I was talking about wanting a cat and she actually thought it sounded like a good idea. I had changed and matured quite a bit, and I was really ready to love something other than my human family. Also, I couldn’t stop looking at pictures of cats on the internet, and I get that we are all suckers for kittens in bow ties, but this was getting out of hand. I ended up going with two friends to the Oregon Human Society and was so ready to meet the cat of my dreams. I’d had one all picked out, but it turned out he was not who I chose. I still remember walking in and instantly being drawn to Sondheim, though he was named Oscar at the time (he’s not an Oscar, though he IS award worthy). I’d looked at a few cats, and walked over to his kennel and I put my finger up to rub his face and he just leaned right into my hand. I asked to see him, and he was brought in and that was it. Sondheim came over, and sat by me, and I told him the following things: I love to watch “How I Met Your Mother” (I was bingeing the crap out of it at the time) and I love a good Broadway show tune. At that moment, he looked up at me and blinked. One of my friends said “I think you’ve found your cat.”
It wasn’t a difficult transition when he came to my home either. The following morning, after hiding for most of the previous night, he came and laid on me while I watched tv on the couch. It was all I had wanted, a lap cat who could allow me to pet him, and he did. I quickly became that person who takes a thousand pictures of their cat (don’t look at my phone) and was all about showing him off. But, I can’t capture what he did for my mental health, and that was the biggest surprise of all. As an overly anxious person, and someone who enjoys spending time alone, it wasn’t always good for me to be by myself with my thoughts. But, with Sondheim, I somehow got a little buddy who knows what I need and when I need it. If I’m crying, he’ll come and lay on me. If I am feeling energetic, he’ll humor my whims and allow me to kiss his face and sing to him. His fur is so soft and petting him has become something of a ritual in the mornings after a long night of insomnia. Sondheim doesn’t ask for much besides food and attention, and I can give that to him. I think I ask a lot of him, but he’s usually pretty responsive.
He’s not always an angel, and every now and again, he’ll bite my toes while I’m sleeping, or pounce on me, and that is annoying as hell. But, we both know I won’t stay mad for long, and he’ll come right back into the bed of which I’ve previously kicked him off of. But, I can’t tell you what it means for me to come home and he’s waiting on the edge of the couch when I walk in the door, and he then lifts his head up for a nose kiss. It’s part of a daily thing with us, and I love it. He’s made my heart grow so much larger, and has allowed me to see that patience is something I really can achieve. I think we take care of each other, and that is very special.
Pets really can make life better, and now I get it. All the photos I send of him to people, all the conversations I have that I pepper his name into, and all the sweet cuddle time I get with him means something to me. Pets aren’t just pets, they are family. And, they’re helpers when they don’t even know they’re doing it, and I think that’s pretty special. So, I would apologize for sending you all my photos of him in a beautifully edited slideshow, but I’m not going to. Just know, though, if you have a pet that you love and want to show off their beauty, I’m your lady!
Seriously, show me your pets. I’m waiting.