At first I was struck by the lucky coincidence, January 20th is National Love Your Pet Day. It is also Sneaker’s fifth “Gotcha Day.” Then I realized, there really are no coincidences. It is just perfect timing. Because how can I not love this cat?
I am having a hard time believing he has been my constant shadow for five years. On one hand it feels like he has been my friend forever, and yet, it also feels like he just got here. We’ve been through so much together, Sneakers and I. He was the start of the “changing of the kitty guard.” When Sneakers joined me 5 years ago, he was the young whippersnapper in a home of two grumpy old seniors. And I am so glad he joined me when he did.
About 9 months after he arrived, my sweet Muffin died. She hated him so much, and there were a few months of utter stress for all three of us as she tried to teach him his place. Sneakers has never been good about reading cat body language, and every time she told him to back off, he thought it was a game. Thankfully, he did stop harassing her when she got sick. As hard as it was to socialize him and care for an ailing old lady, I did it. And I don’t regret a second of it on either of them. Because that is one of the ways we love our cats- by doing everything we can to make their lives as comfortable and happy as possible.
After Muffin cross the Rainbow Bridge, it was just Sneakers and Crash for about 18 months. Oh was I glad to have Sneakers around, especially those last few months. Watching your “ride or die” cat deteriorate is incredibly painful. I knew the end was coming for him, but I also wasn’t sure exactly how close it was. Sneakers was a blessing during this time because he helped me see life after Crash. Crash was my everything until the minute he passed. And when he passed, I had a Sneakers to help me carry on.
Sneakers was my transition kitty. He helped me transition from the loss of two childhood cats. He was around to help me transition jobs, and the loss of dear friends. He has also helped me transition personally. Socializing Sneakers also helped me, I found some aspects of myself that I didn’t know needed tending too. His skittishness and fear have helped me identify those aspects in myself as well. Unlike Sneakers, I am trying to grow past the fear. Sneakers and I became incredibly close in the year between when Crash left and Fuzzy George joined us.
Sneakers has made it clear from the beginning that I am his person, and he is my cat. He is all about me. Before Fuzzy George came around, Sneakers would watch me from the window as I was leaving for work, this sad look in his eyes. He would greet me at the door when I came home and demand attention. He still has his moments of neediness, but has calmed down since Fuzzy George joined us.
Sneakers has shown me his love in hundreds of ways. From constantly shadowing me when I am home, to planting himself on me when I sit on my bed, to his role as alarm clock (telling me when to get up & when to go to bed). He has shown me that I am needed and loved. On days when I am feeling down Sneakers is right there to show me that he needs me. He has absolutely become my emotional support kitty. And tell me how I am supposed to resist those eyes!
How do I even begin to show Sneakers that I love him on Love Your Pet Day? I will never be able to return half the love he gives me. I do what I can. I sleep in uncomfortable positions and tolerate a cat butt in my face. I leave an extra blanket on the bed so he can make a nest to sleep in. I also do things like chase him through the house to administer heart worm preventative-something he might not consider love, but really is. There are so many ways to love him, but none of them do justice to the amount of love I get in return.