Who was your Valentine this year? Maybe it’s your partner or your crush. Or maybe it’s a cat. In my case, it happened to be the latter. And actually, it’s not one cat – it’s six.
Yes, you really read that right – I said six cats. No, I’m not socially awkward or desperate or lonely (and if that’s your assumption about people who have six cats, you’re also not invited to my cats’ birthday parties!). I didn’t intend to have six cats (although I am hoping to eventually adopt a big family of 8 floofs in total). In fact, as of 13th February, I only had four. But then two homeless, orphaned kittens entered my life out of nowhere on a damp and drizzly Valentine’s Day afternoon. That’s right – two little balls of fluff arrived on my doorstep out of the blue like the best and most unexpected Valentine’s gifts you could ever hope to receive.
Friends have asked me if summoning kittens is my secret superpower and I really hope it is! After I took them in, fed them, and gave them the fluffiest, warmest blankets I could find, the arrival of my little floofy visitors got me thinking. It made me wonder if we are entering a different type of ‘unprecedented time’ – a time where moments of joy and peace arrive spontaneously, as welcome and unexpected as a kitten on your doorstep. It made me wonder if this is a hint of what 2021 has to offer – small bursts of pleasure that brighten our lives. A surprise kitten won’t fix all your problems, but it will bring some happiness to your day. And, after 2020, aren’t we all in desperate need of a little bit of joy?
Although it’s only February, I’ve already heard multiple people saying that 2021 hasn’t been what they were hoping for. Whether they were looking for a fresh start or a fundamental reset, they haven’t found it in these dreary winter months. During a time when we are all fervently seeking a little glimmer of hope, it’s no surprise that this disappointment might make us want to give up. But this unexpected blessing has made me wonder if I need to shift my perspective.
Maybe 2021 won’t be the earth-shattering change we’ve been hoping for, and perhaps we’ll just have to live with that for now. But maybe it will bring us something else – something a little lighter and a little more hopeful than anything we found in 2020. Maybe 2021 will be full of little happy moments that keep us going – little reminders that things will change for the better and that everything will be okay.
I think those reminders might be especially valuable on a day like Valentine’s Day. Although this time of year should be all about love, for many people, it’s all about loss. Whether you’re missing your loved ones, grieving over a breakup, or feeling blue because you’re single, Valentine’s Day can make you feel lonely and depressed. It can make you feel like everybody else has a special someone except you. But maybe we need to re-think Valentine’s Day and our concept of ‘special someones‘. Maybe that special someone isn’t a person, but an animal who’s ready to love you with their whole heart. And maybe there’s a homeless pet out there who needs you just as much as you need them.
While we might feel unwanted and alone on holidays like Valentine’s Day, homeless and abandoned animals feel like that every single day. Every day, they’re wondering why they’re cold and hungry and lonely. They’re thinking about how much love they have to give and wondering when they’ll find someone who will want and need them. Far too many animals die without ever finding that happy ending. So, if you’re feeling lonely and wishing you had someone special in your life, consider altering your perspective a bit. Romantic relationships can be great, but they’re not the only type of love out there and they’re not the only type of love you need.
As an abuse and trauma survivor, I’ve discovered that there’s something special about giving my heart to a pet who knows what it’s like to feel unwanted. There’s something special about working on yourself and pursuing peace while caring for those who need your help. The cats I’ve fallen in love with seem to know when they’ve met a kindred spirit and they’ve repaid my kindness with an endless outpouring of love and support. They are here for me when no one else is and they show their love for me in ways that no one else can.
So, as we muddle through 2021 and the month of February, let’s ask ourselves what we’re really looking for. Most importantly, let’s also ask ourselves how we can help someone else. Your opportunity might not arrive in the form of two homeless kittens on your doorstep, but you can still find an animal who needs your love and support. And when you give your heart to a pet in need, you might find that Valentine’s takes on a special meaning for you; something a little more wholesome, uncomplicated, and – dare I say? – purr-fect.