A month or so ago when I was emptying the deliveries at the library, I saw this book and had to put it on hold. It's due Monday, but in the two weeks I've had it, I have loved reading A Letter To My Cat. These letters really touched me, but these two stood out to me (paraphrasing):
I first met you in Afghanistan, when I was stationed as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army. I thought you were a cute kitten that would go come and go from my base. Later, when it was evident that you were being hurt and abused, I committed to taking care of you.
I didn't know that months later you would rescue me. A suicide bomber attacked one of our patrols- one that I was initially supposed to be on. Several of my platoon members died.
I had lost all hope, given up on my life, and was ready to end my pain the only way I knew how. It was you that showed me a different way. You, my friend who had suffered abuse, abandonment, and despair, were there to remind me that no matter how horrible I felt, there were still people who needed me and counted on me.
Throughout all of the darkness and pain, one little cat was the most beautiful and important thing in my life. It was then that my commitment to you became my drive, my new purpose. I would keep you safe as you kept me safe.
I remember when you performed your very first miracle. We came to the room of a new patient. The therapist and the nurse who were with us took me aside before we went in and told me this woman would be "flat." When I asked what that meant, they said she just had a stroke and would not speak or open her eyes. But they thought she might like cats, as her family had put some photos of cats on her bulletin board.
I lifted you, cart and all, onto her bed and gently placed her hand on your head so she could feel you. You, my magic cat, somehow knew to snuggle right up against her. And don't you know, she opened up her eyes, smiled a great big smile, and started talking a blue streak to you while she petted and petted your head. But, I didn't realize just how cool until I turned to look at the therapist and the nurse. They were both in tears.
Me (Dr. Betsy Kennon)"
I've always maintained that animals are good therapy. Whether it's a dog, a cat, a chinchilla, etc., I think the depressed and the sick respond really well to animals. I know when I was really depressed last November, Mimi was by my side and cheered me up through those times. I'm glad she was there for me and cuddled with me at night (Mimi is not a cuddler usually, but in that time - she was). I think animals just know, they have that sense. I think us humans have that sense to animals too. I know I'm thankful for every animal I have had over the years - they are like family.
I made a post on City-Data Cat forum last night. I mentioned my Thankful Thursday blog post and asked them what they are thankful for with their cats. Their responses:
I've written in previous posts here about how my cats helped me through that difficult time after my wife passed away. They simply wouldn't let me sit around and feel sorry for myself. They reminded me that life goes on and that the responsibilities of daily life... including them.... still have to be met. They also made me laugh when I didn't feel like it, and eased the pain of my grief with their purrs. Having them there with me was a sad reminder of the person I had lost, but at the same time were a huge comfort to me. I don't know what I would have done without them.
Cats are mostly in the present. It is their gift to all of us since regrets populate our thoughts of the past and fears populate our thoughts of the future, for most humans. But, the present is usually not so bad. Cats are in the present. They live in the present. In the moment. If a person is feeling bad, all they need to do is curl up next to the cat do whatever the cats does. Voila! Back to the present.
After my walk, I'm going to sit down and work on my entry. Mimi is napping now; but maybe I'll sneak a picture in of her cat-napping.
I agree with them, especially Wilson's response. I never thought of it that way - but maybe the main way Mimi helped me last year and my other cats who helped me when I was depressed in the past, helped because they kept me in the present. Cats, as well as dogs, only live in the moment. They don't really look into the past (I assume) and they don't jump too far ahead into the future: they stay in the moment. That's a really good grounding exercise, especially if one suffers from PTSD or general anxiety. It makes sense now why animals are good tools, sometimes even more so than medications.
So, are you thankful for your animal? What are you thankful about? I'm thinking I might write a letter at a later date to the animals I have had over the years and maybe I'll post them here. :) Maybe you should write a letter as well.