Just when you think you know everything there is about love, you find out you’re wrong.
Have you ever had a pet who brought you more love than you gave it?
You probably have. More than 60 percent of Americans own a pet. And studies show that caring for one builds healthier hearts and fewer sick days, among other things.
I discovered this love late. Sure, I had childhood pets. Then kids. Then kids who had pets. But those pets were part of someone else’s heart. My role was mostly cleaning up after them.
Four years ago, when my husband was recovering from a serious motorcycle injury, I surrendered to the idea of adopting a cat. The job of this new, furry family member would be to keep Mike and me from killing each other. (Just kidding. But if you’ve ever been stuck indoors against your will, you know what I mean.)
Soon it was hard to tell who had the better life.
We say that we rescued Nika. Her days were numbered at the shelter. But the truth is Nika rescued us.
At a time when I was consumed with worry, this furry four-legged followed me everywhere. And it didn’t bother me at all. She jumped to Mike’s lap when he called her and sat patiently- as though aware of her healing powers. As he got stronger. she followed him around the yard and garden, planting herself next to him like a shadow.
She shared our world with few conditions. She brought toys to my office when she wanted to play. Potted plants or something from my bedroom if she was feeling ignored. My blood pressure dropped 20 points.
The flier that never went up read:
Missing: Nika- 4 year old Russian Blue. Comes to her name when called.
But she did much more than that.
She greeted us at the back door when we returned home- whether we’d been gone minutes or hours. She sat with us at night when we watched TV. And (without fail) when she heard the words, “Good kitty”, she dropped to the floor; rolled over and waited to be petted.
She asked little of us in return
The last time I saw Nika, she was tucked snuggly in her bed in the utility room, I made sure the door to the garage was locked, then went to bed and slept soundly through the night. Early the next morning another unknowing someone (probably on their way to work) opened their garage door to the same frequency as ours.
I imagine that when Nika woke that morning and went to her litter box, she could not believe her good fortune. She wandered out into the grass where she could soak up the morning light and never saw the bobcat that took her.
We did everything right. But we could not have predicted this.
Does the love of a pet improve the quality of a human life? I believe so. The love I felt for this tiny four-legged was something I had never known.
She saved my life, though I couldn’t save hers.
I am certain humans don’t live long enough to experience all love has to offer. But I’m hoping cats do.
Quick! Tell me a Funny story about your pet in the Comments Section. I could really use a smile.