The phone call came late at night. I answered, concerned. A friend of mine was reaching out about a stray cat who was in "pretty bad shape and really needs a home." I quizzed my friend for more details only to discover that the injured cat was female, Siamese, declawed, and scared. She’d been found almost unconscious, in someone’s backyard. Without hesitation I said, "Bring her to me." It wasn't until a week later that I met my new cat. She'd spent the last seven days being nursed back to stable health by a kind vet.
Upon the moment we made eye contact, the connection was instant. Within a few minutes of being in her new home, she found her way into my arms and fell asleep for hours. The next morning, my friend called to check on her and asked, "What did you name her?"
I looked down into her beautiful blue eyes and said impulsively, "Her name is Flower."
"Flower?" my friend repeated. "That's a strange name for a cat."
"No," I said. "It's perfect for her. She's a little damaged, but she's adorable. All she needs is a little love."
Flower became very attached very quickly. She didn't want to leave my side. She wanted to be next to me constantly. I became worried that she was suffering separation anxiety when we were apart. I took Flower to my vet for a checkup and to get some advice. There, the vet shared with me just how bad Flower had been treated. She had burn scars on all four paws, her tail had been broken twice, and some of her teeth had been knocked out. I was overwhelmed with emotion, angered by the cruelty my sweet cat had endured but sad that, most likely, Flower had not yet known the love of a human.
"This is why she's so attached to you," the vet explained. "Many Siamese bond with one human in their lifetime and for them, the bond is quite intense. Given that you rescued her and are taking care of her, she might be afraid of losing you." The vet gave me some techniques to try and lessen Flower's anxiety, most of which worked over time.
Before Flower and I found each other, I had allowed my life to become pretty hectic, putting work above everything else and never really taking the time to stop long enough to enjoy the world around me. It seemed impossible for me to be present in the moment. Yet, I soon found myself anxious to get home and sit with Flower on the sofa. No longer was busyness appealing. I wanted to spend time with my cat who wanted to spend time with me.
Thinking about the horrible experiences Flower went through before she was mine and her renewed willingness to trust and love, I couldn’t help but be impressed and inspired by her resilience for life. A survivor in the truest sense of the word, I wondered if Flower had somehow forgiven those who caused her so much pain.
I soon realized how affectionate Flower was. She loved to cuddle, rub noses, and insisted on being kissed on the top of her head, whenever the need struck her. I discovered what food and treats she preferred, what toys she loved, and the quirky traits that made her unique. In other words, Flower and I became best friends.
Now, a year later, Flower has taught me the importance of slowing down and taking the time to enjoy every moment. No longer am I rushing from place to place, completing endless tasks, or speed walking through life. Instead, I’m enjoying quiet moments with my beautiful Siamese Flower, who has taught me the importance of stillness and love.
Update: Sadly, Flower passed away on January 28, 2022. She is greatly missed.
This essay originally appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat: 101 Tales of Family, Friendship and Fun (Simon & Schuster, May 14, 2019; edited by Amy Newmark)