When I look at my cat, I see life. I see hope and renewal. She’s my baby and the reason I’m alive. She’s been the only constant in my life and I’m her mommy.
When I got the call from my boyfriend, I wasn’t sure what to do. I was recovering from an abusive relationship and in no way able to care for a kitten. But she needed a home. Her mom and littermates had been killed by wild dogs, so she needed someone.
I could barely take care of myself at the time. I thought I was worthless and horrible. I was depressed and on my own. Sure, I had a boyfriend, but he wasn’t able to give me the support I needed. He didn’t know how to help me and I didn’t know where or how to get help.
When I first saw her, she was curled up in a baseball cap. She was shivering — it was winter. She was so helpless and tiny. I couldn’t send her back to the farm. They would just put her outside and hope another mother adopted her.
I agreed to take her to the vet. Maybe it wouldn’t be hard. I’d only had adult cats before and that was when I was still living at home, so I had no idea what I was getting into.
I hated the vet’s office. It felt empty; something didn’t feel right. I must have sensed what the vet would say. I had already fallen in love with the little calico, so when the vet told me she was too young to survive,
I was heartbroken, but I couldn’t watch her slowly die. The vet prepared to end the little kitten’s life. Except she clung to me. Her little paws clutched at my fingers and she looked at me, begging me not to. I saw myself in that moment. I saw my own helplessness, my own desperate need for help. I couldn’t do it.
The vet wouldn’t tell me how to save her life, so I went home. Turns out Google had all the answers I needed. I found where to get a bottle and milk, how to help her go potty. That was not fun, but I’m convinced that since I always did it over her litter box, I never had to train her to go there.
She has issues, and I wonder if I caused them. When I washed her, I never tried to mimic a cat’s tongue. There’s so much I didn’t know to do and I feel guilty for that. I could have gotten higher-quality formula, and maybe that’s why she has functional spatial issues. I never socialized her with other cats, and maybe that’s why she doesn’t like them.
My heart knows I did all I could, and that I saved her life, but it also feels guilty. As her mother, I could have done more.
Soon after deciding to keep her, I realized I couldn’t keep calling her Feline. I watched her, playing with a bit of fluff and pouncing everything. I remembered her fight, her will to live, and I decided. I was addicted to World of Warcraft and I’d name her after a character: Slyvanas.
Yea, my cat is named after a video game. No, you cannot laugh.
Slyvanas and I grew together. She was learning to thrive and eat solids, and I was learning to stand on my own. Or so I thought. Another man came into my life. He was charming and said all the right things. I knew I loved him, and he said he loved me.
I packed up and left one night with Slyvanas. We were officially moved in! She was now strong and playful, at that age where everything was a toy. Including her own tail — she still loves to chase it! I’ve seen her fall off the bed so many times going after that thing. I swear she doesn’t know it’s connected to her.
Life was good for a while. We had a nice house to live in and a man who loved us. Until I said no. I don’t remember what it was to, but I remember his reaction. It wasn’t bad; it wasn’t as bad as the first boyfriend who hit me. But Slyvanas was furious! She hissed and spat at him until he left.
I should have left, too. But where would I go? I had no friends around here, no car ….
I stayed and things got worse.
While things were getting worse, Slyvanas was getting stronger. She was growing up and becoming aggressive toward him. I can’t really blame her. In the end, I stayed because I had to. Anywhere I could have gone wouldn’t have taken her, and he would have killed her just to hurt me.
Luckily, we moved, and this time we were in a city. I was able to socialize while he was gone. I met people and made friends. He didn’t like this. He didn’t like me starting to see I had choices. I hated him at that point, and so did Slyvanas.
She got revenge for the two of us. She shat in his shoes and threw up in EVERYTHING he owned. Slyvanas even managed to give him a few scars with her claws.
I was scared, I knew he was going to kill her soon, and she was still so little. She was only seven months and I couldn’t protect her from his kicks and hits.
Something inside me snapped one day. I didn’t kill him or even fight back. I called a cat-lover friend and Art came to get us. Slyvanas went with him and I went to the hospital. I spent over a month in the psych ward.
When I came out, I met Art and my beloved. She was so happy to see me, the poor baby could hardly stand, she was purring so loudly! She climbed up my legs to nestle in her usual spot under my shirt, against my heart.
While I was gone, Art had given her a nickname: Slyvy. It’s stuck. It suits her better. She’s wild, playful, and affectionate. I’ve called her Slyvy ever since I moved away from that man, he who shall not be named.
We’ve started a new life, and Slyvy is five and a half now. She comes to me and licks away my tears when I have a hard day. She greets me every day at the door. I wake up with her every night snuggled against my pillow.
She gave me the strength to leave — and to survive. This tiny kitten, this creature too weak to survive, has grown to be a vibrant and strong adult.
We both still have issues, but we’re learning.
Together, we’re learning to trust men again. A year ago, I moved in with Brian. I did so knowing that I could get out. I have friends, people who I can turn to. I’m not helpless anymore. It helps that Slyvy likes him. We both still struggle sometimes. She gets aggressive and I get anxious if he gets angrily loud, but we’re working through it.
We saved each other. I kept her alive, and she has returned that favor. She’s my baby, and I see that trust in her eyes every day. It’s something I can’t betray. It’s my job to keep us safe, and she’s given me the strength to do it.
Some may see a small cat, but I see an angel. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. She’s my Slyvy, my precious feline one.
Now, excuse me while I try and save some of the toilet paper.
Kat lives in small-town Pennsylvania with her boyfriend, Brian, and their feline furchild, Slyvy. When not doting on Slyvy, Kat enjoys video games. Kat and Slyvy take long walks during the evening, letting Slyvy chase the squirrels. Luckily they’re always saved by Slyvy’s leash.
Slyvy’s favorite things include watching Bones and Hotel Hell and stealing Mommy’s pillow. Kat keeps four pillows on the bed and usually wakes up without one.
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