People talk all the time about how they have found their soulmate, whether it be their spouse, significant other, or their best friend. Mine just happens to be my cat. While other animal lovers will know exactly where I am coming from, some people just may not understand this; and that is okay. In life, you cannot expect people to understand something they cannot personally relate to or have not yet experienced. I may find the human version of my soulmate one day, but for now I'm perfectly content with my four legged companion. My "soulcat."
My cat Cinder is a really specially little guy. His life story is just as compelling as mine, and I truly believe that we were meant to find each other. He has the most amazing personality, but he didn't start out that way. I started volunteering at Branford Compassion Club, a local cat shelter, the summer before starting high school, a few months after undergoing my first of two heart surgeries. I was feeling lost and alone, in need of some sort of purpose. Little did I know I would find everything I needed and more within the world of non-profit feline rescue and adoption. I began healing myself from the inside out, getting to help amazing cats as well as finding some of the best friends I could have ever imagined through the other volunteers. I devoted my whole heart and soul into the mission, and I miss it dearly since moving away.
Cinder came to us in August of 2012 sometime, when he was around four months old. We received a call from an employee of a local CVS, reporting sightings of a small, gray kitten underneath the dumpster out back. One of our volunteers was able to trap him and bring him into the shelter. He was feral, most likely living in the woods nearby and going to the dumpster to look for food and to seek shelter from inclement weather. He was not fond of people to say the least, and spent most of the time cowering in the corner of his cage which was located in isolation. He also suffered from health issues, which ranged anywhere from Upper Respiratory Infections to Urinary Tract Infections. Because he was constantly isolated, none of the potential adopters even got to look at him. All of these things pretty much deemed him "un-adoptable."
At that time, I was already partial to gray cats as I had my guy Smokey at home whom I got in 2003 for my fifth birthday. I LOVE gray cats. Because of this, I think I took a special liking to Cinder. I worked directly with all the cats, but I started spending extra time with Cinder at the ends of my shifts, or I'd even go in on a day I wasn't on the schedule just to have extra time to spend with him. It was slow in the beginning, but slowly but surely he started coming around and I saw him starting to trust me in a way he didn't trust anyone else. I started administering his medications on all of my shifts, introducing him to different treats and toys that he had never seen before, and giving him all the love and cuddles he deserved. If someone else entered the room while I was with him, he would immediately try to put himself in a corner until they were gone. He wanted nothing to do with them.
This bond that we had created continued to grow, and I realized one day that I couldn't leave him in the shelter. I had to have him as my own kitten. It took a lot of conversing between the officers of the shelter, my family, and I, but soon enough on I was finally taking Cinder home.
After having Cinder for almost five years now, I have come to realize that we are the same soul in two different bodies. For starters, we are both chronically ill. Secondly, we are both motherless. I don't know what happened to Cinder's mom or to the rest of his litter, but he was clearly orphaned when he was found. I, on the other hand, watched my mom's life spiral downward since I was a little girl until I lost her to an accidental drug overdose in February of 2016. My mom got to spend a little over three years with Cinder, and she loved that cat. That cat was like her grandchild; and Cinder loved his Grammy.
Even when she was still alive, I was already grieving her loss. I knew it was coming. Cinder attached to me in a way where now, he truly thinks that I am his mother. We were both missing something in our lives, and we were able to fill each other's voids. Lastly, the way Cinder attached to me reminds me so much of myself as someone who suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder. All of these similarities that we share are living proof that we were meant to find each other.
Cinder and I are much closer than most people are with their animals. He literally has been my rock since I brought him home, helping me deal with illness, emotional ruin, family turmoil, and the loss of my mother. I suffer from many mental health issues along with the physical ones, which can all be very overwhelming for me at times. He is so in tune to me and my needs: he knows when I am upset, when I am in pain or not feeling well, and when I need to be comforted.
A few days after I lost my mom, Cinder went missing. He was gone for a few days, and I was just totally distraught. I thought that he must have slipped out the door when someone was leaving. We searched endlessly, rescue volunteers left traps and helped us look in the middle of the night. It turned out that he was hiding in the ceiling in our basement, as he was so stressed out by all of the turmoil going on in the home, but for those hours without him I couldn't even function. It was because of this that I decided to register him as my Emotional Support Animal. He takes that title very seriously, as I swear he knows that he has a job to do and exactly what it is. It is his way of paying me back for saving him.
After I took him home, he ended up developing severe separation anxiety, to the point where he would get physically ill and completely anxiety ridden when I would leave the home. This got to the point where he would begin vomiting or having urinary issues where he physically couldn't urinate. He eventually needed daily anxiety medication to keep this under control. He was abandoned before, and every time I left he became terrified I was never coming back. He loves me so much; I am his whole world, and he just can't imagine it without me in it. He is so thankful for me.
After losing my mom, I decided I needed to make a life change. Cinder loved his home with Smokey and my grandparents, but when it was time for me to make my move I knew had to have him with me. He braved the trip from Connecticut all the way to Las Vegas like a champ, and made himself right at home into our new apartment. He's the king of his castle, and is now healthier than he's ever been. While he is only four and I hope to have many amazing years left with him, I know that I will never have another cat like him. He is one of a kind, irreplaceable, put in my life at the right time with a clear cut purpose.
I don't think I could have gotten through the events of the last four years without him, and the support that he provides to me on a daily basis. Unlike most people, Cinder has never abandoned me; no matter how unlovable I may have been at the time. He is my lovebug, my protector, my personal exterminator, 24/7 bug patrol, the welcome wagon that waits in the window for me to come home every day, the dream catcher that sleeps on my head every night to chase the nightmares away. He is a survivor, just like me; a beautiful little soul with a whole lot of love to give. He is my best friend. Mommy loves you, little man.
To follow Cinder's journey, you can like his Facebook page here: