How a Little Orange Cat Taught Me Everything About Love


I truly think Sebastian and I were destined for each other.

I was 19 when I got my darling, tiny orange kitten. I was a university student, so I couldn’t be home all the time. I picked a cat over a dog because I knew cats were easier to take care of. Originally I wanted his sister, but the lady at the shelter wanted them adopted as a pair, and two kittens was a huge commitment. One day when I went to the shelter I noticed there was an adoption pending for both of them, but I was told that only the female was probably going home. My heart was so sad that nobody wanted him, so I told the woman that if he wasn’t being adopted as well that I would adopt him. The next morning I got the call that literally changed my life forever, and I went to pick up my new addition. I had no idea how much I could love, and how hard I would work at keeping Sebastian alive.

Sebastian was devastatingly ill. He was 2 months old and weighed less than two pounds. Nobody expected me to keep him, not even the people at the shelter. But it had taken me less than a minute to fall in love with him, and I had always been stubborn to a fault; I would not give up on him.

He wouldn’t eat and he had awful diarrhea. We went to the vet so many times in our first four months together. There were stool samples, urine samples, blood samples, and all his vaccinations were postponed until he was stronger. The little guy trucked through so many vet visits and so many tests, he suffered eye infections and needles, and yet he still purred like nobody’s business when we cuddled, and he was so full of love and affection. At one point, my mother was stressed about how much money was going into his vet bills, and she told me he had better be made of gold. I laughed, because to me he was made of gold, with his rich orange color with big gold eyes. Sebastian quickly won her heart when I brought him home at Christmas.

The two of them bonded, and somehow something happened and Sebastian became better, after four long months. There was no longer mucus in the litter box and he was gaining weight like crazy. He had the appetite of a growing kitten and played and explored constantly.

I had prayed so hard every night for Sebastian to get better, and we had fought for him for what felt like an eternity. I had called family and friends in panicked tears so many times because I just had no idea what to do. I had thought a cat was less work, but healing Sebastian had turned out to be a full-time job.

After Christmas, my life began to return to normal. I actually went to my classes, got a job, and saw friends, but I was always worried about Sebastian. That summer we went back home to my mom and they fell even more in love. The little guy was spoiled rotten between us.

We adopted another cat that May for my brother and named her Mercedes. The two became fast friends. In the fall when I had to go back to school, I was unable to take Sebastian. I was devastated, but I knew that my mom would take care of him just as well as I would. I talked to Sebastian every night on the phone, and he would just sit there and purr. He purred so hard and so ferociously that it sounded like a whine, and he headbutted hard enough to give concussions! He just loved back as intensely as he was loved.

Sebastian lived with my mom for three years, and then in February of 2011, I came home and was given the devastating news. Sebastian had kidney disease. My mom had noticed that he had been losing weight rapidly and took him to the vet, who said that Sebastian had probably been born with it and that it explained why he had been such a sick baby.

My cat, who I loved so intensely, who had shaped me and become such a crucial part of me, was very sick, and I had only two options. I could keep him alive for a few months with saline injections three or four times every day, or I could put him to sleep. The first option was awful: I couldn’t comprehend how somebody who actually loved her pet would be okay with prolonging disease and pain. It was both the easiest and hardest decision I made to put Sebastian to sleep. It was easy because I loved him and didn’t want him to be sick or tired, I didn’t want him to need needles every day; he hated them as much as we did. And I understood that he had fought to love and be loved for the last four years, and the only way to honor that strength was to let him finally rest.

He was the embodiment of unconditional love, and no matter what I did — trimmed his claws, stepped on his tail, took him to the vet, gave him needles — he came back and loved me so hard and intensely I was bruised. To lose that was devastating. He had helped me grow into someone I was proud to be, he had helped me learn forgiveness and strength, and he had shown me how much power love had.

I had never lost anybody until February 22, 2011, when my mom and I took him to the vet for the last time.

Our hearts are still broken; we still miss him every day. My mom was used to pets dying — she was a farm girl, it was a part of life — but she told me that she had never loved an animal as much as she had loved Sebastian. He was so easy to love; he worked his way into your heart with his unusual purrs and his sweet personality. Not once did Sebastian bite or scratch anyone, no matter the situation. He was a big gentle cat with a heart of gold.

We are still healing, but I have a new little boy, Kaeto, who is the perfect opposite of Sebastian. He helps me heal a little more each day, and he has just enough orange on him. Like Sebastian, he is well loved, and I know up on the rainbow bridge, Sebastian is watching over Kaeto.

Sebastian taught me so much about how to love and how to forgive. He taught me that nothing in life matters more than love, and I appreciate each day a little bit more for having known him. He was an angel sent to teach us many life lessons, and we feel truly blessed to have had our brief time with him.

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