I saw a meme recently that said, “What’s the surest way to make cat people smile? Ask them about their cats.” I believe in the positivity companion animals can bestow on their humans. They can better a mood, or calm a temper. One can’t help but relax when petting a furry little body. Whether or not it’s for treats, one can find solace in the attention of a critter when sad or lonely. They do it unconsciously, and in the case of cats, unintentionally.

I have had at least one cat for the majority of my life since I could remember. When I was a little kid, they were my playmates. During my rollercoaster teenaged years, they were my friends who I could unload whatever was on my mind without worrying about them telling anyone. During my twenties, they saw me through loss and heartbreak. Now, in my thirties, they provide me all of that in addition to giving me reasons to stick around and better myself.

When I was teenager and adult, I had a trio of three cats who travelled with me from home to Montreal to Alberta and back again. Princess, Norma Jean, and Buttercup were my lifelines to more than just life. They tied me to memories of family and great times while I was going through the motions of “maturing” into adulthood. When Buttercup passed away a week before her birthday at the ripe old age of 22, I’d lost my final link to those lifelines. I was devastated. I swore never again to have another companion animal. I simply could not take the heartache.

A couple months after she passed, my brother mentioned a free adoption blitz at the Humane Society for adult cats and that maybe I should just have a visit. I had no intention of adopting, but I was missing a feline presence despite my oath.

Now when I entered the Humane Society, I came across plexiglass enclosures for bonded cats or those that aren’t very sociable. There was a small black cat in the top corner who looked at me and then fell over on her back and stretched out her belly.

“That one.” I said.

“Maybe you should look at the other cats first,” my brother replied.

“OK, but it’s going to be that one.”

It was, of course. I renamed her Leeloo and brought her home. A month later, Penny came to live with us after I saw her on the Humane Society’s website and fell in love with her orange striped face. Both of them are such a positive force in my life. They each have their own little quirks and personalities and endless patience with me. They tolerate the little hats I make them wear (yes, unabashedly a crazy cat lady, have the t-shirt) and endure the picture taking that comes with it. They’ve helped my heart heal and opened it to bringing other cats into my life when the time comes. As the sentiment goes - I rescued a cat, but the cat saved me.