It was 2005 when I first started to realize that my allergy shots had worked and I was no longer very allergic to cats. I was sitting at a friend’s parents’ house when their cat came up to me. I was scared at first and didn’t want the cat to come up to me. This was an understandable fear of mine because when my allergies had been at their height, I would get severe allergic reactions to them that included asthma attacks. So when this cat approached me, I fearfully told my friends that I was allergic to cats. But the cat was already so close that I was at risk for allergies and my typical asthma attack. That’s when I noticed that I was not having my typical allergic reaction to this cat.
A few months prior to this, I had survived a life-threatening sexual assault and attempted murder. The PTSD that I’d had since my childhood had erupted. Because of my suffering, though, and the fact that I had survived such an ordeal, I had become a little more open to things in my life that I previously would not have considered. So despite my fear I let the cat sit on my lap.
Some time went by and nothing happened. After I got home, I told my mom about this experience and she let me know that our family doctor had suggested that I may want to get a therapy cat or dog. So, I decided to get some allergy testing done to see where I really stood in terms of my allergies.
A couple of weeks later I found out that my allergies towards cats and dogs, while still there, now were pretty mild. The allergist told me that it would be okay for me to get a pet. So, I started to look around at nearby shelters for cats and dogs.
I had always favored dogs over cats but I did have a love for cats at a young age before my allergies for them really developed. I remember petting the cats in my neighborhood who came up to my house, and that I loved black, white, and Siamese cats. As I grew up, though, I learned to favor dogs much more mainly because I had more experience with them (my allergies for dogs were not as bad as they were for cats). I surprised myself, then, when I found myself seeking out cats and looking longingly at a grey cat that I saw at a cats only animal rescue.
I still wasn’t sure about cats, though, and didn’t feel strong enough in my want or need for a pet to adopt any that I saw. I feared that my allergies might return and that even my mild allergies to them might cause problems. I was also busy in graduate school and outpatient treatment so couldn’t spend too much time looking for cats. It turned out, though, that I didn’t have to because Patrick and Lucy found me.
One of my friends knew that I was lonely and struggling, so he set me up with a guy that he had met at a local coffee shop. This new boyfriend decided to take me to San Juan Island one weekend to go hiking. He had grown up there and said that we could stay with his mom. I’ve always loved hiking and traveling so I agreed to go on the trip.
San Juan Island was beautiful. On the last day that we were there, my boyfriend took me to visit the American and British camps. By the time we left to go to his mother’s house for the night, it was already dark. As we were driving we looked out and saw two eyes in the middle of the road. My boyfriend stopped the van. I looked out to see what kinds of animals were on the road. I saw big heads with tiny bodies, and at first, thought that I was looking at possums. I looked harder, though, and saw that I was looking at two kittens who were so emaciated that they barely looked like cats.
I then had a feeling that I’d never felt before. I somehow knew that God, or the Universe, wanted me to have these cats. So, despite my concerns about cats, I went outside to rescue them. One came straight to me, but the other tried to run into the woods. I caught both of them and brought them into the van with me. I immediately felt love towards them, and hoped that they were now mine.
Still, we felt obliged to ask around to make sure that these kittens did not belong to anyone in the area. We drove around for a while and asked people in the nearby houses if anyone was missing these kittens. Everyone thought it was cute how they squirmed in my arms, and we were unable to find any potential owners. Then we talked to a man in a nearby house who told us that cats are commonly dumped in this area. Upon hearing this, I decided to take them in permanently.
Once we got back into my boyfriend’s van, Patrick seemed determined to explore his surroundings. He walked around the back of the van, getting into everything while whining and vocalizing loudly. “Can you shut him up so that I can drive?” my boyfriend asked. I tried to talk to Patrick to get him to calm down and encouraged him to come to sit with me, but he continued to talk very loudly about his new situation. The whole time this was happening, Lucifer sat calmly in my lap and looked out the window. He was obviously happy that someone had rescued him and seemed very content to be where he was at.
I had never had cats before and knew nothing about how to take care of them. My boyfriend told me that his mother knew a lot about cats and that she could help us. He also encouraged me to name them. When I first saw them, I was convinced that the silver tabby, who was like no cat I had ever seen, was a girl. But my boyfriend looked under their tails and said told me that they were both boys. So I told him during our name finding that I wanted to name them Matthew and Patrick after my Uncles who had passed. I decided to name the silver tabby Patrick and the brown tabby Matthew. My boyfriend, though, then asked if he could name the brown tabby, as it looked just like the cat that he grew up with. “I was hoping that we could name him Lucifer”, he said, “After my Dad’s cat who passed away.” While I was hesitant to give this cat that name, I agreed.
When we got to his mother’s house, I attempted to carry the cats into the house, but Lucy (Lucifer) had other ideas. He jumped out of my arms and scampered up a tree. My boyfriend tried to get him down but he would not budge. My motivation to rescue both cats faded a bit, and I wondered if I should just take in Patrick. But my boyfriend persisted though and brought Lucifer to me. I am so glad today that he was able to bring him down from that tree.
Once inside, my boyfriend’s mom walked me through the process of how to take care of cats. She showed me how to feed them and fed them some of her cat’s food. Then she set up a water bowl and made a litter box out of a paper box. We kept them in my boyfriend’s room so that they wouldn’t disturb the existing house cat.
That night, Patrick, who had been very vocal so far, would not stop whining for attention. In order to get some sleep, my boyfriend put both cats in the closet. Patrick whined all night, with occasional peeps from Lucifer. My boyfriend repeatedly complained about Patrick, but I was full of concern for them because they were in the closet. I barely got any sleep.
In the morning, my boyfriend was questioning whether I should keep the cats because of their whining. I had already fallen in love with both and told him that I was keeping them. We left to return to Bellingham, and on our way, we stopped by a pet store and picked up some necessities for the cats.
Once we got home I cuddled with the cats and helped them to adjust to my apartment. I set up all of my cat supplies and made a trip to the local pet store to get more. I took both cats to the vet, and the vet told me that they were starving and had fleas and worms. He said that they wouldn’t have survived long if I hadn’t rescued them. “Even if they did belong to someone”, he said, “That person wasn’t giving them adequate care. You were right to take them in, and as I see it, they belong to you.” This lessened my fears that I had wrongfully taken someone’s cats.
Patrick and Lucy soon adjusted to their new environment. They loved to cuddle on my lap and although they were still fearful for some time, they were obviously happy. My boyfriend encouraged me to clip their nails and give them baths, so I did. It turned out that Lucifer really liked his bath and did end up enjoying baths for some time while he was a kitten.
My parents were initially not in support of me taking in the cats. They worried about my allergies, but after a few weeks I had not had any problems with them and was doing much better emotionally than I had been before I rescued Patrick and Lucy. They slowly adjusted to the idea that I now had cats and that it was a good thing for me to have them.
About three weeks after getting the cats, I decided to stop drinking for good. I called them my “sobriety cats” for many years, but now I see them as just my cats. Over the years, when no one else was there for me, my cats have been. Whenever I doubted the existence of a creator or of spiritual powers in this world, I simply had to look at my cats, see their beauty, and remember how I never believed that I would be able to have a cat, let alone two. While I don’t believe such Christian ideas as “everything happens for a reason” or “God has a plan for us”, I do believe that there were many reasons why the Universe or those above sent Patrick and Lucy to me. We are meant to be a family.
Today the cats are 13 years old and are struggling with health problems. It is extremely hard to see them suffer, however, we love each other still all the same. I am doing everything that I can to help them through this difficult time, and they obviously love me even more for it. It has been a joy to own them, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more stories about our cats!