Sick animals and sick people

My little kitten, Wally (whom you’ve met before!), has not been herself lately. In early November she was spayed, and she never quite recovered. The spaying surgery put stress on her heart (as would be the case with any cat), which triggered a congenital heart disease. We were already heartbroken to learn that her life would be dramatically shorter, even with drug therapy, but little did we suspect that some other illness would take hold. Now she has some mysterious illness that no one can quite figure out—is it autoimmune-related? Is it some degenerative muscle disorder? Is this related to her heart disease or not? We are hopeful she will fare well enough to continue resting comfortably while we wait on test results and, we hope, treatment for whatever is ailing her.
But all this is to say that I am continually amazed at how much she is reminding me of a sick human being. From the sad face to the watery eyes to the desire to curl up in a ball and sleep all day, Wally looks like I do when I am ill. I hope I am giving her the same kind of compassionate care I would want if I were in her position: she gets hugged and pet while she purrs, and when she stops purring she gets left alone for a little bit. We help walk her to the bathroom when her legs are too weak to get her there, and we give her the fancy wet food delivered to her in bed. We push her to take her medicine even when she turns her face away, knowing it’s the best chance she has to recovery. And then we just let her know we love her.

Caring for her has led me to see I need to be more compassionate with myself and with my significant other when either of us is sick. To take that extra step to be sweet and caring, not to push when good health is not quite ready to make its triumphant return.
For now I hope you’ll keep our little girl cat in your thoughts and hope she makes as full a recovery as she’s able.

Here’s to you, Wally.

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