It’s easy to be grateful when times are easy, but when life gets difficult — and even heartbreaking — it’s actually more important to remember how good we have it. In some ways, this year has been harsh like few others in my life, but these trying times have amazed me by bringing unexpected blessings. I’d like to share with you some of the things for which my cats and I are tremendously grateful.
I’ve been to two pet-related conferences this year, and the result has been an incredible shower of toys, treats, and delights to tempt and entertain my feline overlords. In fact, I’ve gotten so many goodies that I’ve got more than my cats could use in three lifetimes. Siouxsie, Thomas, and I are going to share our blessings by giving most of this awesome stuff to animal rescue groups and shelters.
2. A safe home
It’s something a lot of people take for granted, but anyone who has ever lived in extreme poverty and on the verge of homelessness — or who has actually been homeless — knows what a blessing it is to have a warm, secure place to lay your head. Cats who lived on the streets or in shelters are also grateful to have a place where they’re loved and cared for: that forever home means more to them than many of us will ever realize.
3. My vet
It’s always a crapshoot when you move to a new city and you have to find a veterinarian. I’m very fortunate that my colleagues are also animal lovers, and they had a couple of recommendations for me. After a couple of false starts, I found a truly wonderful clinic staffed by veterinarians and techs who truly love and care for cats.
My vet is a great communicator and has been willing to answer my nerdiest questions — and she even let me watch an operation! She’s seriously the best vet I’ve had since Dr. Sarah, who took care of my cats for eight years when I lived in midcoast Maine.
4. My fellow cat bloggers
Back when I started writing my blog, Paws and Effect, in 2003, I never imagined that I’d meet so many wonderful people who share my passion for making life better for all felinekind. It’s been my privilege to work with some of these amazing people on projects ranging from promoting cat health issues to holiday gift drives for shelter cats.
I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever known, thanks to the supposedly isolating medium of online interactions. Jackson Galaxy … er, I mean Catster editor Keith Bowers … captured the essence of a cat writers’ conference very well in his recent post.
5. My readers
For almost 10 years now, people I’ve never met have been writing to me with questions about their cats on Paws and Effect, and for some reason they just keep on coming back even after I’ve answered their letters. They, along with all of you here, have been incredibly supportive through a year in which I lost two of my beautiful cat companions: your prayers, kind thoughts and other ways of support have surprised me … and left me in tears more than once. I’m a writer, but words fail me when I try to express how incredibly important you’ve been to me.
6. Being a member of the Cat Writers’ Association
It’s a privilege to be a part of this amazing organization, whose members include the writers of the books that first inspired me to learn everything I could about cats. Twenty years ago, cat writing was pretty much unheard of outside the circles of people who read cat magazines, and it certainly wasn’t considered a big deal by publishers. But the market for books (and blogs) about cats has gotten larger and larger, due in no small part to the hard work of the individuals who formed the CWA back in 1993.
7. And, of course … my cats!
I couldn’t possibly write a gratitude list that didn’t include my cats. Each one who has shared my life has taught me lessons, opened my heart, and exposed me to things I never would have believed. There’s nothing like a comforting purr to ease sadness and wash away frustration, and I love waking up to feel Siouxsie and Thomas snuggling next to me. I think I would have been a very different person if it hadn’t been for the cats who trusted me with their care and their lives. I couldn’t be more grateful for them.
This list is nowhere near complete. If it were, it would be a novel. But what about you? What makes you and your cats feel grateful this season? Please share your thoughts in the comments!