As a former veterinary hospital manager, a part of my heart will always be with the veterinary profession. When Heska Corporation, a leading provider of veterinary diagnostic and specialty products, asked me to spread the word about their 2nd Annual Inspiration in Action Contest, I was happy to do so.Continue Reading
human animal bond
There are many different definitions of the term “soul mate.” Even though the term is often used in connection with a romantic relationship, a soul mate is simply someone we feel a deep and immediate connection with. We can’t always explain rationally why we’re so drawn to a soul mate.
For me, the term soul mate also has a strong spiritual component. We enter into these soul mate relationships not just because we’re drawn to them, but because they hold lessons for our personal and spiritual growth. And not surprisingly, I believe that this connection doesn’t just exist with humans. It also extends to cats.
Liz Eastwood, the publisher of the Natural Cat Care Blog, also believes that feline soul mates exist. She calls them ” soul cats,” and has devoted an entire series on her blog to featuring some of these special cats. I was honored that she chose to feature Feebee in her series. He was my first cat, and also my first ” soul cat.” I say my first, because I think I’ve been blessed with more than one of these special cats. Amber was definitely another one, and so was Buckley. And I suspect that Allegra and Ruby are, too.
The interview was originally featured on Liz’s blog. Here’s your opportunity to learn more about my special guy.
How did you find each other?
Feebee was born to a cat named Blue, who belonged to a childhood friend of my former husband in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Walt and I were living in Germany at the time, but we would be moving back to the Washington, DC area shortly, so Walt’s friend saved one of the kittens in Blue’s litter for us. Meeting Feebee was love at first sight for me. We took him home as soon as we had moved into our new house in Northern Virginia, and for the next fifteen and a half years, Feebee was the love of my life.
I should probably explain his name -most people think Feebee is a female name. The first time Walt picked him up, he said “hi there, little fishbreath” after getting a whiff of his breath, and we thought that would be a cute name. However, we also thought nobody should have to go through life with a name like Fishbreath, so we shortened it to F.B., which didn’t flow nicely, so somehow it became Feebee.
When we picked him up to take him home with us, he was six months old. When we put him in the car, he sat by the back window and cried and cried for the first half hour of our drive. Then he came to the front, curled up in my lap, and went to sleep – and that’s where he stayed for the rest of the two-hour drive. That was my first taste of the kind of happiness he would bring me for the next 15 ½ years.
Is there a personality trait or experience that stands out?
He was a very affectionate cat. He loved to cuddle, and he slept in my arms most nights. He loved food – all of it, not just his cat food. He had some very strange tastes for a cat that included mustard covered bits of lettuce, cantaloupe, and potato chips. He was also very playful, and particularly loved catnip stuffed toys that he could hug to himself and kick at with his hindlegs.
What made you aware of your special bond?
I think I didn’t realize that he was my soul cat until after my divorce. He’d been with us almost ten years at that point. There was never a question that he would stay with me, and it’s a good thing he did. The divorce was only the beginning of a very dark period in my life: four months after my former husband left, my mother passed away after a short illness. Between trying to adjust to life as a newly single woman, and mourning the untimely passing of my mother, I felt completely overwhelmed. Just getting through each day seemed impossible at times. But Feebee was by my side for all of it, and somehow, I managed. He let my tears soak his soft grey fur. His quiet, loving presence eased my sadness. He was a great listener, and his rumbling purr provided comfort. He cheered me up with his utter cuteness.
Despite his loving presence, the pain and sadness sometimes became unbearable, and there were times when I considered just ending it all. But whenever these dark thoughts entered my mind, I would also think of Feebee. Knowing that someone still loved and needed me made it impossible to give up on life. Who would take care of him if I wasn’t around? And each and every time, love pulled me back from the edge – this special love between a cat and his person. Feebee gave me many gifts throughout the almost sixteen years he spent with me, but none greater than the gift of life.
He was also instrumental in guiding me toward a new career. There’s nothing like major life changes to make you re-evaluate your life. I had become increasingly unhappy with my corporate job but had no clear sense of what I was meant to be doing with my life. Then Feebee took matters into his own paws, so to speak, and developed bladder stones. The time we then spent at veterinary hospitals for diagnosis, treatment, and surgery led me to change careers. I started volunteering and then working part time at veterinary hospitals, which eventually led to a full-time position managing an animal hospital.
I would love to hear about your special “soul cats” – share them with us in a comment!
Guest Post by Laura Kuhlmann
Last night, I finished reading Buckley’s Story, Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher by Ingrid King. Although I had purchased this book last fall, it was too difficult for me to read, having said goodbye in November to our beloved boy cat Matisse, aka Mr. Boober, after his brave battle with lymphoma.
Ingrid’s book is more than just a story about a special cat named Buckley, for Ingrid touches upon many aspects of the human-animal bond, as well as the animal-animal bond, including intuition and communication, that really make one stop and think. This is a book that sticks with you after you finish it, and no doubt I will be reading sections over again.
Ingrid talks about her cat Amber “holding the space” which really intrigued me. Here’s a short excerpt, from page 86:
“…..I made sure that I paid enough attention to Amber during this time … She quietly held the space for both Buckley and me. Some people, as well as some animals, are masters at holding the space. It means creating a quiet, safe, and peaceful environment. By being completely centered and secure in herself, Amber focused her gentle energy on allowing Buckley and me to relax into whatever was happening and to find our own way through it with as little worry and fear as possible.”
This concept – holding the space – is what our cat Mr. Boober did in our home, especially with our two girl kitties Lulu (his little sister) and Aliza (for better or for worse, his constant companion.) But we didn’t realize this until he had passed away. The attitudes of the girls, and the dynamics between them, were suddenly all messed up. The girls didn’t know quite how to cope, because the one who had held the space for them was Boober, and now he was gone. My husband and I described Boober as the glue that kept the three cats together and content. Holding the space.
I am fortunate to have met Ingrid via Twitter (gotta love social media!) and we’ve become friends. Ingrid thinks that perhaps Aliza or Lulu might eventually step up to fill the void (and hold the space) but of course it won’t be exactly the same.
It immediately made me think of a series of pictures that I took last fall. Both girls were extremely attentive to Boober toward the end of his life when he went blind. Aliza and Lulu would stick close by him…taking turns cleaning him…just being with him. Aliza especially, who was literally hopelessly in love with Boober, rarely left his side. I wanted to take some pictures of the two of them together, although our digital camera wasn’t cooperating. When I came around the bed, I saw Aliza’s paw and arm on top of Boober’s. My heart melted, and I’m so glad I captured this moment. I think Aliza’s only concern was to provide comfort and serenity in the midst of some scary changes. I think during those moments, she was holding the space.
Laura Kuhlmann is the owner and designer of Petscribbles, a unique line of hand-crafted greeting cards for, from, and about pets. Laura designs and makes the artistic and upscale, yet fun, personal, and whimsical cards herself. The cards are made to order in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, USA, and only the best cardstocks, decorative papers and embellishments are used. Laura and her Chief Feline Officer Lulu pride themselves on using recycled materials whenever possible. Laura and her husband are owned by two cats: a 9-year old Ragdoll girl named Lulu (the CFO mentioned above); and a 15-ish years young formerly feral kitty named Aliza-Loo Doolittle. Aliza enjoys a fulfilling retirement doing very little work (aka Doolittle).