I am an animal person, especially furry animals that can cuddle you back. Research has shown that people who have pets are happier, healthier, and live longer, but that only justifies my already-existing obsession. During my junior and senior years in college, my roommates and I discussed – with varying degrees of seriousness – adopting a kitten. Unfortunately, pets were not allowed in our on-campus apartment, and we did not want to risk the fines, not to mention what would happen to the cat if we were caught.
As I was preparing to start graduate school, my first order of business (just after determining my financial aid eligibility) was adopting a cat of my own. I only viewed apartments that were pet-friendly and frequented petfinder.com for kittens that needed homes. I even had an appointment to meet with a vet about the last kitten in a found litter scheduled before I had begun the drive to my new home. Aside from wanting to do what I could for homeless animals (I’ll post another week about my decision to volunteer with the Humane Society), I felt that bringing a cat into my home would help manage my graduate school-related stress. Animals have always been a source of comfort to me, and none is more comforting than the pet that greets you at the door every day when you return home. That is how I decided to adopt Armani.
My third day in Connecticut, I welcomed Armani into my apartment. It was a wonderful decision. I am now the proud caretaker of two cats, as my partner and I decided to adopt from the Humane Society together last year. I will share more about that in another post. Over the last three and a half years, he went from over-sized kitten to thirteen-and-a-half pounds of love. He is unbelievably playful but still curls up at my feet every night. The point is, Armani has gotten me through my program because, no matter how stressful my day is, he is always there to greet me when I come through the door (and about half the time he is watching for me from the window when I drive up).
I have watched Armani grow up, and even though he can be a jerk sometimes (I once had to go to practicum with a scratch on my face because he aggressively decided that cuddle time was over), he is MY kitty and I love him! Nothing makes you forget that your dissertation chair just destroyed your most recent draft like seeing how high your giant tuxedo cat can jump for a catnip ball. For the record, he can go about seven feet straight up. I will try to get a video of it, because it is amazing.
My pets are my biggest form of self-care because they love me no matter what. If I’m running myself too hard, Armani will choose the perfect moment to fall asleep on my lap for an hour, and I have to slow down while he uses me as a human cat bed. Cats are zen, and they bring their humans into their zen. Good kitty!