Part of Ingrid’s story is similar to my own: the story of an animal friend pulling her out of her darkest times. Can you relate?
Let’s get into the questions…
1. How did you find each other?
Feebee was born to a cat named Blue, who belonged to a childhood friend of my former husband in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Walt and I were living in Germany at the time, but we would be moving back to the Washington, DC area shortly, so Walt’s friend saved one of the kittens in Blue’s litter for us.
Meeting Feebee was love at first sight for me. We took him home as soon as we had moved into our new house in Northern Virginia, and for the next fifteen and a half years, Feebee was the love of my life.
I should probably explain his name -most people think Feebee is a female name. The first time Walt picked him up, he said “hi there, little fishbreath” after getting a whiff of his breath, and we thought that would be a cute name. However, we also thought nobody should have to go through life with a name like Fishbreath, so we shortened it to F.B., which didn’t flow nicely, so somehow it became Feebee.
When we picked him up to take him home with us, he was six months old. When we put him in the car, he sat by the back window and cried and cried for the first half hour of our drive. Then he came to the front, curled up in my lap, and went to sleep – and that’s where he stayed for the rest of the two-hour drive. That was my first taste of the kind of happiness he would bring me for the next 15 ½ years.
2. Is there a personality trait or experience that stands out about him?
He was a very affectionate cat. He loved to cuddle, and he slept in my arms most nights. He loved food – all of it, not just his cat food. He had some very strange tastes for a cat that included mustard covered bits of lettuce, cantalope, and potato chips. He was also very playful, and particularly loved catnip stuffed toys that he could hug to himself and kick at with his hind legs.
There are a lot of experiences that come to mind, but one that I can still clearly remember and relive, even more than fifteen years later, was the day he came home from the hospital after he had bladder stones removed. He was still pretty miserable, and he mostly wanted to keep to himself and sleep. This was in the days when pain control for cats wasn’t something a lot of vets paid attention to, and he was probably in quite a bit of pain.
When we went to bed that night, he was curled up in the corner of the bedroom – he didn’t even want to come to bed. I felt awful.
Then, a few minutes later, he jumped up on the bed, nudged me to move my arm, and curled up next to me, resting his head on my shoulder. I felt like I had my cat back – to this day, I cry when I think of that moment.
3. What made you aware of your special bond?
Even though I knew from the first moment I met him that he was special, I don’t think I realized that he was my soul cat until after my divorce.
He’d been with us almost ten years at that point. Even though he loved my husband, there was never a question that he would stay with me, and it’s a good thing he did. The divorce was only the beginning of a very dark period in my life: four months after my former husband left, my mother passed away after a short illness. Between trying to adjust to life as a newly single woman, and mourning the untimely passing of my mother, I felt completely overwhelmed. Just getting through each day seemed impossible at times.
But Feebee was by my side for all of it, and somehow, I managed. He let my tears soak his soft grey fur. His quiet, loving presence eased my sadness. He was a great listener, and his rumbling purr provided comfort. He cheered me up with his utter cuteness.
Despite his loving presence, the pain and sadness sometimes became unbearable, and there were times when I considered just ending it all. But whenever these dark thoughts entered my mind, I would also think of Feebee. Knowing that someone still loved and needed me made it impossible to give up on life. Who would take care of him if I wasn’t around? And each and every time, love pulled me back from the edge – this special love between a cat and his person.
Feebee gave me many gifts throughout the almost sixteen years he spent with me, but none greater than the gift of life.
He was also instrumental in guiding me toward a new career. There’s nothing like major life changes to make you re-evaluate your life. I had become increasingly unhappy with my corporate job but had no clear sense of what I was meant to be doing with my life. Then Feebee took matters into his own paws, so to speak, and developed bladder stones.
The time we then spent at veterinary hospitals for diagnosis, treatment, and surgery led me to change careers. I started volunteering and then working part time at veterinary hospitals, which eventually led to a full-time position managing an animal hospital.
4. Is there a care or feeding tip you would share with a new cat caretaker?
Educate yourself about cats, especially if you’ve never lived with a cat before.
Cats are often misunderstood and have a reputation for being independent and solitary creatures that they can be left by themselves for long periods of time. The reality is that they thrive on human interaction.
They need an environment that allows them to express their natural urges to hunt through play, and one of the best ways to bond with your new cat is to play with her!
When it comes to feeding, remember that cats are obligate carnivores who need meat to survive. A cat’s ideal diet is either a raw or grain-free canned diet. I’ve written extensively about feline nutrition on my blog – it’s one of my passions.
Ingrid King is the award winning author of Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. She is a former veterinary hospital manager turned writer. Her online magazine News for You and Your Pet goes out to subscribers around the world. Her blog, The Conscious Cat, has been called “educational catnip for the cat lover” and is a comprehensive resource for conscious living, health and happiness for cats and their humans.
For more information about Ingrid and Buckley’s Story, please visit www.ingridking.com