by Beth Adams Pitoniak
Once again, my cat has taught me a lesson about life. I’ve been blessed to have shared my home and my heart with many pets over the years–dogs, birds, gerbils, mice, turtles, rabbits, and in the last half of my life, a series of felines. One of the things I love about cats is the way they wheedle their way into my heart in a matter of seconds, and stretch and bend that organ until I am left a better person for the experience.
This holiday season has brought many changes to our household. About six weeks ago, I was laid off from my job of nearly 24 years and have found myself searching for work outside the only profession I’ve ever known in my adult life. My husband went through a similar transition three years ago. We were not ready for the additional stress when our cat, Sassy, who usually lives up to that name, was especially lethargic last weekend and refused to eat.
Witnessing some other concerning symptoms, we brought her into the emergency veterinary clinic on Saturday night. Many exams, x-rays, and blood tests later (and a much lighter wallet) the specialists on staff still didn’t know what ailed our young and otherwise healthy tabby. She came home with us only to return, very dehydrated, to the clinic 36 hours later. An ultrasound showed changes in her spleen and intestines that could signal anything from a parasite to cancer. Suddenly, jobs, networking, bank accounts, and mortgages dropped low on my list of worries.
Animals have a way of reminding us what is important in life, and what we will be left with at the end of it: memories of the sustaining love and devotion of those closest to our hearts. I knew that if Sassy came home to us and returned to her previous healthy and mischievous self, all would be well in my world, whether I worked as a cashier at the store down the road or as an executive in a PR firm.
So, this is the great Christmas gift our little Sasser gave to us this year. And a priceless gift, at that. It wasn’t just the present of her restored health–for she is living up to her name once again–but the powerful lesson that most of the things we fret about just don’t matter.