What I Learned About Love from a Sick Stray Cat

What I Learned About Love from a Sick Stray Cat
January 23, 2014 Gina Senarighi



Last fall I was adopted by a stray cat.  I say I was adopted because I had no intention of adopting a pet (I live in a pet-free rental).  I wasn’t looking for her.  But it didn’t matter, she found me.

My partner and I had noticed a mangy long-haired black cat with a large wart on her nose skulking around the neighborhood.  She made her presence and discomfort known with long pathetic yowls.  She was clearly weak in the joints and although I would catch her napping in the driveway, she scampered away with such lightning speed we never got close to her.

Let me be clear: she was not attractive.  Large lumps of hair fell in her wake.  Her face-wart sometimes appeared to be leaking.  And she smelled.  Real, real bad.

Never miss an opportunity to be kind.

In September I saw her in the front yard, and thought she was dead.  It was a heat wave and she hadn’t moved all afternoon.  I told my partner to stay inside while I checked on her (he has a very soft heart).  When I got close she moaned, and when I tried to pick her up, she limped away quickly –scowling. 

She didn’t seem interested in building a relationship.

I left out some clean water where she had been laying (which was a muddy algae-ridden gutter in my neighbor’s yard).  I didn’t see her again for days.  I wasn’t going to become attached to a stray cat.

Patience achieves more than force.

Weeks later, we were enjoying a fire in the back yard with two dear friends when she interrupted the party.  She howled at us and wandered around the fire.  Our friends – cat lovers- told us she was hungry and my partner (the tenderheart) decided to start feeding her.  So we began putting food out in the morning and watching through the window as she snuck closer to the house to eat.

Love in such a way that the person (or cat) you love feels free.

Soon she was letting us near her and we realized she was severely underweight.  Her matted fur coat disguised her skin and bones 3 pound frame.  We set food out more frequently and called the neighborhood vet.

My partner was concerned she was cold at night and set out to find a heated cat house that could live outside (remember: we can’t have pets in our house- not that she has any desire to come inside).  I thought he was nuts.  So I went with him to the pet store to make sure he didn’t buy everything in the store. 

When we got home with a small cat bed she was waiting on the front porch.  She hadn’t let us pet her and when we walked up with the bed she hid. 

Genuine gratitude is best when shared. 

When we set the bed down she crawled immediately in it and then out to rub against our legs.  She did figure eights through our legs with greater enthusiasm than I knew she could muster for an hour.  Then she fell fast asleep in the bed between us.

Love in it’s truest form has no language or words – only actions.

She started letting us pet her.  We named her Wiggles.  She waited loyally on the porch when we left for the weekend, and greeted us enthusiastically when we would return home.

Later that week at the vet we learned that in addition to being at least 15 years old, she was anemic, has at least two forms of cancer, a thyroid problem, and kidney failure.  Both vets apologized for the bad news and told us she may only be with us for two months.  We were advised to keep her comfortable and let them know when things got worse.

We treated her fleas, mites and parasites.  We combed out her fur when she would let us.  She started moving around better.  She gained two pounds.

In receiving we heal others, in giving we heal ourselves. 

Then on a sunny fall afternoon I was sitting in the back yard and she climbed in my lap.  She was shining in the sunlight and we took a nap.  She started letting me pick her up, and I started giving her old joints daily massages.

It’s been four months since she was given two.  Although I know we will soon be letting her go, it has been wonderful to see her gain strength and begin holding her head higher –even making eye contact- in the yard.

Slow down to appreciate tiny moments of connection.

Yesterday instead of rushing past her I watched her bask in the January sun.  Her peace brings me peace.

She is on my lap now, napping after a massage.  Though our days may be few, I appreciate all she has taught me in our brief and unexpected partnership.  Opening my heart to her has reminded me how to open my heart to others.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust


About the Author:



Gina Senarighi, MA, MS, MFTI, is a relationship coach, couples counselor, sex educator, blogger, and communication trainer who inspires couples to be even stronger together. She guides clients to bring greater fulfillment, passion, and joy into their workplaces and homes. She holds master’s degrees in both counseling and education and is completing her Daring Way™ certification and a PhD in positive psychology.  She enjoys gardening, listening to NPR, practicing yoga, and traveling the world with her partner. Check out her beautiful daily inspirations on: Facebook –Twitter – Pinterest




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