Page 1 of 1

Learning From My Cat About Trauma + Self-Worth

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 2:11 pm
by MusicNerd
Hi all,

Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe! <3

I just recently adopted a cat, and he is literally one of the best things that's ever happened to me. He's taught me a lot about trauma and how I view myself through that lens.

Before we met, he was likely someone's former pet, who was either lost or abandoned, and then became a street cat for a few years. He was starving and living a very rough life outdoors, and it's very likely he's been through some things and been traumatized as a result. His dental condition became so bad over the years, that once he arrived at the shelter they realized he had to have most of his teeth removed so that he could be able to eat without pain.

Right before our state-mandated quarantine back in March, a friend of mine decided to take him in as a foster from a local shelter. She loves fostering cats and she wanted to have a cat to nurse back to health while she became recently unemployed due to the pandemic.

He's a senior cat, during kitten season, so he was very much being overlooked by people in terms of being seen as "not adoptable". He's also a tuxedo cat (black-and-white) and unfortunately black, and partially-black, cats are severely under-adopted in the US because of dumb superstitions about them. :( And he's missing almost all of his teeth, which also made him seem less "attractive" to a lot of people. As a result of all this, he had to wait for over 3 months in foster care to be adopted, which is a long time.

As soon as I met him on a video call, I immediately fell in love with him! I very quickly asked to adopt him, and earlier this week he became mine. :) From day one, he's been super affectionate with me and has already claimed me, and my apartment, as his-- because let's be real, we don't adopt cats they adopt us. :lol: This is seen as very odd behavior given the fact that cats usually take at least a couple weeks to adjust to their environment.

I give all this backstory to say that I see a lot of myself in my kitty: I've also been through a lot of trauma throughout my life, and I've felt abandoned by people who were supposed to be there for me. I also have been faced with obstacles in my life due to my appearance as a person of color, and I've had to come up against a lot of things as a result. I've also felt for the longest time that I'm "too old" to find a partner as someone in my mid-twenties who has yet to be in a romantic relationship, and I've often felt that my flaws -- like my mental health, addiction recovery, eating disorder history, etc. -- would somehow be viewed as being too terrible to look past despite my positive qualities. I've devalued myself so much for most of my life as a result of looking at myself through a trauma lens.

But in adopting my cat, I've learned that all the things he has faced in life, and his little quirks, are all exactly why I love him so much! When he yawns one of his toothless yawns, he looks like an adorable little stuffed animal-- I never saw this as him being any less "lovable" because he got the help he needed to survive. He follows me around from room-to-room, partly because he wants food, but I'd also like to think partly because he loves me. haha :D I find his older age to be endearing, and I didn't want a kitten anyway because I felt like I wouldn't be able to give them the attention they need once quarantine lifts-- I never saw him as being "too old" to love. And since cats can live a long time, he's likely got another 10+ years in him anyway!

Also, I've noticed that he still is learning to trust and warm up to me since he still has a hard time staying in bed with me when I go to sleep, but he's making progress! He'll nap towards my head and not at my feet during the daytime. He just needs to be shown that I will consistently love and care for him, and to build that trust (even though he's surprisingly built a lot of trust with me so early on!) He's super affectionate and loves when I give him pets, and I love giving them to him whenever I can.

I realized that if my cat can be lovable not despite all those things he had going against him, but because of all those things, then maybe, just maybe I could potentially be good enough and lovable with my past, my flaws, and all. :)

I hope maybe this can help others to hear the story of my cat! I love him so so much and it's already been so therapeutic to have him in my life since adopting him earlier this week. <3

Re: Learning From My Cat About Trauma + Self-Worth

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:39 am
by Alexa
I realized that if my cat can be lovable not despite all those things he had going against him, but because of all those things, then maybe, just maybe I could potentially be good enough and lovable with my past, my flaws, and all.


This is so beautiful! I'm glad your kitty helps you to see this in yourself, and that the two of you have each other to love on! <3

Re: Learning From My Cat About Trauma + Self-Worth

Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 4:54 pm
by Mo
MusicNerd, I love this! I have to admit I'm extra partial to your story because I have a tuxedo cat who was adopted as a stray who we think was abandoned by a neighbor; we've had her almost eight years and while she used to be very skittish she's blossomed into a sweetheart who wants nothing more than to cuddle and purr while she gets attention. It sounds like our kitties are pretty similar. :)
I'm so glad both that you have a new cat friend to love and care for but that loving him is helping you love yourself a little more, too.

Re: Learning From My Cat About Trauma + Self-Worth

Posted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 10:34 am
by MusicNerd
Thanks so much, Alexa and Mo! I really appreciate it. He’s truly such a blessing, I love him to bits. <3

Re: Learning From My Cat About Trauma + Self-Worth

Posted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 1:53 pm
by Amanda F.
As a fellow cat enthusiast, this brings joy to my heart - for both of you <3

Re: Learning From My Cat About Trauma + Self-Worth

Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 6:20 am
by MusicNerd
Aww, thanks Amanda! I appreciate it :)

Re: Learning From My Cat About Trauma + Self-Worth

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:23 pm
by GoodVibes444
Oh how I loved this post! Thank you for your cat story. There is so much for us to learn about consent through our relationship to animals. About building trust as opposed to assumed trust. I also think that you can sort of see this in relationships to the earth and how the planet responds to built trust and support. The ways tree rings will show trauma they may have sustained as part of a much bigger beautiful picture of their life times. If we allow plants that might be sick, the time, patience, care, support, and love they need, they can grow back even stronger. I don't see why humans can't also mirror that way of life. Additionally, part of growing a plant is learning the conditions that specific type of plant needs and adjusting to those needs so it can thrive. We are all part of the same ecosystem that is interdepdent on each other and so many societal factors. If we lean into that, maybe we can all get the care we need.

This comparison also has a lot of roots in colonialism and how colonizers have treated the earth and its animals. The earth has been traumatized by its inhabitants and it needs time to heal and we aren't giving it that. Definetely worth reading more about if you're interested (this is just a side tangent cause I think its cool).

I share this as someone who has also been assaulted and felt like my roots to sex, pleasure, touch, intimacy, and care were cut off and I don't know how to grow them back. But some amazing people in my life have shown me what a little care can do. Hopefully maybe my roots will grow back stronger.
You seem like an amazing cat parent. I hope I can learn from my future pets too! This took a different direction than I originally planned but hope it might be a helpful thing to share!