How a Scrawny Stray Cat Changed My Life For the Better

I often write about how to orchestrate or cope with change but sometimes the smallest, unexpected changes can have a huge impact on our lives.

Today I would like to share a sweet personal story with you.

I moved into my townhouse about 8 years ago. Not long after moving in I noticed a scrawny, stray cat sleeping on my pergola. He was skinny and not well looked after. I wasn’t sure if he belonged to anyone.

The cat would sleep on my pergola during the day, then cross the road and disappear under my neighbor’s house at night.

I couldn’t get anywhere near him for a long time. He was a hissing, scared of his own shadow mess of a cat.  His behavior made me think he had been mistreated at some stage.

I started talking to him regularly. Yes you read that correctly. I would sit outside in my courtyard and talk to him as he was perched up on the pergola.

I started giving him food (which you would think would win him over) but even then I had to go inside and shut the glass door before he would come near the food.

This went on for about 4 years – I am nothing if not determined!

All the while I talked to him and told him how beautiful he was. I should probably point out that for many years, I thought he was actually a she.  I originally called her Bella but a name change was soon in order.

One day he walked up to me and brushed against my leg.  The rest as they say is history.

He is now the biggest bundle of love and pretty much rules the house!

Here’s how he has changed my life for the better.

1.  He reminded me of my capacity for love

As much as we love our friends and families, when we have been single for a while it can be hard imagining opening ourselves up to new love.  Any type of new love.

Remembering our enormous capacity for love is invigorating.

Unconditional love is a powerful force. Regardless of whether my boy keeps me up at night wanting attention, accidentally throws up on the bed at 2 in the morning the day before I have a job interview or decides to get in a cat fight with the local ginger tabby, I am always there for him.

2.  He reminds me what some tender loving care can achieve

Every now and then I remember the hissing cat who wouldn’t let me anywhere near him and it makes me smile.

He is so affectionate and loving now it’s hard to believe he is the same animal. He can still be timid around strangers and he’s not fussed on our dodgy gardener and his noisy leaf blower but with me he’s adorable.

Sometimes what is needed are small but constant acts of care and tenderness.  We can’t always force a connection, sometimes we just need to allow animals (and humans) to move at their own pace.

Never underestimate what tender loving care can achieve.

3.  He stops me from being lonely

My cat is an instant loneliness cure. I am never lonely with him around.

This is a blessing when I work from home. People who work at home often talk about the isolation and loneliness of not working with other people.

My cat is the answer to a large part of that problem – the phone and Internet do the rest.

4.  He gives me someone to come home to

I love living my myself but it is wonderful to have someone to come home to.

Some days he will rush up to meet me when I get home and yes sometimes he is simply hungry and wondering where the hell his dinner is!

When I went to Asia in 2011 to write for Thai Airways, I was gone for about 12 days.  This was the first time I had left him for a long period of time. He was so happy when I came home. He was extremely expressive and for the next couple of days every time I sat down he was on my lap.

5.  He has taught me to be more responsible

It’s not like I was irresponsible before but he has helped me become more so.  Pets are a big responsibility.

As a traveler and in the past someone who moved around a bit, he has tamed my gypsy ways.  Naturally I will keep travelling but a cat/house sitter will be part of my holiday planning.

6. He has changed what I eat

I have always cared about animals and their welfare. In an earlier post I was thinking about becoming a vegetarian

I can proudly say I am now a pescetarian. I’m not a full vegetarian yet, as I still eat seafood. Though becoming a pescetarian is a lifestyle choose I have been considering for a while, ultimately it came down to my cat.

The first time I took him to the vet it was traumatic for both of us. He was scared and frightened. It upset me to see him distressed.

It made me aware of the suffering and distress I was putting other animals through by eating meat. Why should I treat a pig any differently to my beloved pet? The pig feels fear and has emotions as much as any other animal.

I have since done some investigation into the way commercial animals are treated and I’m now overjoyed with my decision.

Another amazing thing I have noticed is how much I notice animals more, for that matter I notice and appreciate nature a lot more than I did before. I am much more aware of the beauty around me.

7. He fills my life with pure joy

To some that may sound cheesy but to other dedicated pet owners that will sound just about right.

My boy is pure joy.

He makes me happy – what’s better than that?

8. He reminds me to live in the moment

Cats are so zen like.  You would swear they are meditating at times.  The stretching, the marking time, the purring.  One minute they are fast asleep, a second later they are chasing a leaf caught on the breeze.  Cats live moment to moment.

Instead of worrying so much about the future, we should do more of the same.

9. He’s good for my health and well-being

It has been documented how pets positively affect the health of their owners.

When I work from home, I regularly walk downstairs and check on him during the day. He’s an excellent excuse to take regular short breaks. Sitting for long periods of time, even in an ergonomic chair can affect your health. He gets me up and moving.

If I’m feeling stressed, I spend some time with him and within record time I’m feeling much better.

He is also wonderful when I get sick. I don’t know how he knows that I need some extra attention but he always does.

10.  He makes me laugh

I definitely have to start videotaping him when we play.  It’s hilarious. You Tube here we come!

What is it about cats and keyboards?  The minute you start typing they’re all  I want me some of that.   What’s even more astounding is how my boy can manage to hit just the right key to turn off the Internet (I didn’t even know this key existed before he put his paw on it).

If someone had asked me if I wanted a cat when I first moved into my apartment, I would have said no which just goes to show how an unexpected change in your life can turn into a total blessing.

In case you were wondering he’s not scrawny anymore – he’s healthy, happy and curled up asleep in the garden.

FYI – Unfortunately I didn’t have a high quality photograph that worked for the Pinterest format, so I decided to run with a stock photo. But in case you are wondering, here’s a picture of my gorgeous boy who I love with all my heart.