Some cats change our lives.
James Bowen was a down on his luck British street musician who was busking the streets of London when a ginger cat walked into his life. Bowen and Bob caught the attention a literary agent, an encounter that would change the pair’s lives irrevocably. Bowen’s first book, A Street Cat Named Bob, became an international bestseller and was released as a major motion picture.
Lil BUB came into Mike Bridavsky’s life when she was eight weeks old. She was born with several genetic mutations. Since then, BUB has become a published author, a talk show host, a movie star, and has helped raise well over $300,000 for animals in need.
Tabatha Bundesen was a waitress in Arizona up until her cat Tardar Sauce, better known as Grumpy Cat, became an internet sensation. Grumpy Cat has reportedly earned over $100 million through movie and media appearances, book deals, modeling, and more.
I’ve been blessed with three life changing cats myself. While the changes in my life may not have been as meteoric as Bowen, Bridavsky or Bundesens’s, they were profound. Amber inspired my blog, The Conscious Cat. Buckley inspired an entire book, Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. Between the blog and the book, my life changed in ways I never could have imagined.
And one of my cats literally saved my life.
Feebee was a grey tabby cat who was born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to a cat named Blue, who belonged to a childhood friend of my former husband. Walt and I were living in Germany at the time, but we would be moving back to the Washington, DC area shortly, so Walt’s friend saved one of the kittens in Blue’s litter for us. Meeting Feebee was love at first sight for me. We took him home as soon as we had moved into our new house in Northern Virginia, and for the next fifteen and a half years, Feebee was the love of my life.
When my marriage ended after Feebee had been a part of our family for ten years, there was never any question that he would stay with me. Even though our divorce was as friendly as these things can be, it was a difficult time. Unfortunately, the divorce was only the beginning of a very dark period in my life: four months after Walt moved out, my mother passed away after a short illness. Between trying to adjust to life as a newly single woman, and mourning the untimely passing of my mother, I felt completely overwhelmed. At times, just getting through an ordinary day seemed impossible.
Feebee was by my side for all of it. He let my tears soak his soft grey fur. His quiet, loving presence eased my sadness. He was a great listener, and his rumbling purr provided comfort. He cheered me up with his utter cuteness.
Despite his loving presence, the pain and sadness sometimes became unbearable. There were times when I considered just ending it all.
I still vividly remember a particularly difficult day. It was a rainy evening in November. The holidays were right around the corner. I thought about going back to Germany to spend part of the holidays with my Dad, but I just couldn’t handle the idea of an overseas trip. Well-meaning friends extended invitations, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted my old life back. I wanted to not have to think about what to do for the holidays. I just wanted another quiet, relaxing holiday with my former husband. I wanted to feel spoiled and loved, the way he used to make me feel when things were good between us.
As I was driving home from work, a thought popped into my head. It would be so easy to turn the steering wheel just a little bit and drive my car into the wall along the side of the road. The thought scared me. I had never contemplated suicide before. Sure, I had had thoughts along the lines of “I can’t do this anymore. I just want this to end.” But I never went any further. This was the first time I had actually thought about the “how.” In one quick second, I could end all the pain I was feeling.
And then I thought of Feebee. Of how my little man was waiting for me at home. He was probably hungry. He wouldn’t understand if I never came home. Who would love him the way I loved him?
And I thought of how much this little cat loved me. He was fond of my former husband, but I was his person. The special love between Feebee and me was unlike anything I had ever experienced.
I pulled my car into a parking lot, and I cried. I cried because I missed my mother. I cried because I missed being married. And I cried because I had almost given up on that rainy November night.
I’m here to tell you this story today, and it’s all because of a small grey cat. Feebee gave me many gifts throughout the almost sixteen years he spent with me, but none greater than the gift of life.
This article was previously published in 2017.
Thank you for sharing this post. Feebee was a very dear soul and there for you in a very difficult and dark time.
Grief hurts. Beyond loss of a person, or a pet, in any way, there is a secondary loss of parts of our life.
I was widowed 4 years ago.
My furkids brought and continue to bring a special kind of care, comfort, love, nurture and purpose to my life that keeps me going. They are there when people are not.
Thank you for your posts.
Thank you for sharing this Ingrid.
You have been a blessing to so many of us with your insights and information.
My two cats are helping me in a difficult time and I tell them every day how much I appreciate and love them.
And I do my best to stay calm and centered so that they have less “work” to do.
What a beautiful Soul contract you and Feebee shared. He knew your work here was yet to be fulfilled.
Just reading what you went through made me cry. I’m glad FeeBee was there to help you through it.
Oh my gosh. Feebee really was a special cat.
I’m sorry you were in a dark and painful place and I’m grateful Feebee was there to help you through. You’ve gone on to touch many lives and to improve them with your wisdom.
Here too! Thank you for sharing your story! Lucy came into my life after a close friend and business partner died by suicide. This little girl at just 6 1/2 lbs saved me from the darkness. Now I’m taking care of her…she really is my world, this little Siamese mix, so full of love and grace.
I’m sorry about your loss, Kathy. I’m glad Lucy was there for you.
What a sad but beautiful story with a happy ending!
My “FeeBee” was a lovely little tuxedo princess named “Gabrielle.” There were many many times I thought of ending it, and a little black body would appear out of nowhere as if to say, “what about me? You’ve still got me!” Unfortunately, that ended 3/22/16 when I had to have her put down after a 15 month battle with pancreatic cancer. She was a fighter to the end. How I miss you, Miss G!
I’m glad you had Gabrielle to get you through your dark times, Ida. It must have been so devastating when you had to let her go.
Thank you Ingrid for sharing your story. I just got to read it now and I am in tears. The love for a cat and from a cat is like nothing else.
I cried while reading this; there have been times when I was about to give up, or give in, when I’ve been unable to see anything good in life…but the cat I have, and the cats before, all they had was me. I would never make that choice, to leave them. Thank you for sharing this.
I’m glad cats have helped you not give up, Maria.
I just read your article about Feebee saving your life, and it made me choke up. You see I am going through a dark place in my life also. I lost an older cat Mollie in Oct last year, then my mother also passed away after a short sudden illness a week before Christmas. In January, my 6 yr old male cat Vader choked on something he had swallowed & passed before we could get him some help, then just 5 days later, Vader’s brother Solo passed suddenly after a battle with gi issues. I was in shock and at a very low part of my life, but through it all, my remaining cats were there cuddling me, purring & also letting me cry in their fur., and I realized if I were to end it all, there would be no one to take care of them. I have 4 children who care about me, but they have their own lives & families, but my kitties have only me. They are my reason to live. Thank you for your article, it renewed my resolve to get through the stuff that I still have to face. ☺️
Oh Cat, that’s an awful lot of loss so close together. I’m glad my article helped, and that your cats are helping you get through this difficult time. My heart goes out to you.
I had a very sever case of pneumonia last year and my cat Arya never left my side. I had to be hospitalized three times and the nurses said I scared them because I stopped breathing. At home I guess I did the same. My husband said he could barely hear me breathing and I didn’t count, but I was woken up several times by a gentle paw on my cheek and a meow in my face. We now call Arya, “nurse Arya.” I believe she saved me during my illness in ore ways than one.
Nurse Arya sounds like a very special girl, Denise. I love hearing stories like yours.
Ingrid, We are all very grateful that you stayed. You have contributed so much to so many lives, human and feline. Thank you for being here, and for making it through the very difficult times.
Thank you for your beautiful words, Cindy.
Thank you Ingrid. I appreciate you sharing this.
Thanks for sharing.