90: Inside Out

90: Inside Out

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!

Inside Out

If purring could be encapsulated, it’d be the most powerful anti-depressant on the pharmaceutical market.

~Alexis F. Hope

I still remember the first time I saw her: a tiny kitten with white paws and an orange smudge above her eyes. She was hiding at the back of her enclosure, making herself as small as possible and trying to disappear from the world. One by one, all of her more outgoing brothers and sisters were taken, until she was left on her own. It seemed no one wanted the scared, reclusive kitten in the corner, but I knew straight away she was the one for me. Amber, the kitten, however, needed a lot of convincing.

She cried all the way home and every night. She hid under my bed, behind the fridge, somehow squeezing into every corner of our house where no one could reach her. Slowly and carefully, I gained her trust. When she finally ventured out from under my bed to eat, the sound of her crunching her kitty biscuits was music to my ears.

Over the years, we became inseparable. Amber was at the door whenever I got home from work or university, she stayed up late with me when I was studying, and she even scratched on the bathroom door and meowed if I’d been in there too long. I, in turn, respected her boundaries. I could scratch her head and under her chin, but I couldn’t rub her tummy or pick her up for cuddles.

A few short years into our friendship, I was raped, and I started a rapid downward spiral into depression. I stopped going to work and school and stayed in bed. I became a traumatised soul hiding in darkness, making myself as small as possible to disappear from a dark and cruel world.

Amber never left my side. She was a warm, furry bundle of comfort when no one or nothing else could reach me. Once, at my lowest low, her cold, wet nose on my cheek made me lift my head from my tear-soaked pillow. There was Amber, with one of her ears turned inside out. She looked so completely absurd, this elegant feline, paws tucked daintily underneath her, tail curled perfectly around her, with one ear inside out . . . that laughter gurgled up through all the darkness and pain and overflowed.

That moment was the turning point for me. I got out of bed, opened the curtains and pulled myself together. I went back to university and to work, and started seeing a counsellor. It was a long road to recovery, but I am here today, walking that road because Amber dispersed the darkness long enough for me to get back on my feet.

Throughout our years together, Amber has brought a lot to my life. But I will never forget that when I lost faith in humanity it was a cat who was able to give it back to me.

~Shireen Wahid

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