I moved into my current apartment, in case you don’t recall, sometime in August or September of 2014. It took me about a year to settle in and when I did, I went through a nesting period. I hung things on the walls, organized my books, etc. And one of the things I wanted to add to my home was a pet. Specifically, a cat. At the time, I didn’t feel quite emotionally—or financially—ready for the responsibility. I had a bunch of financial stuff to clean up, and I still balked at the idea of taking responsibility for another life. I still had a bit of growing to do.

Fast forward to this year—yearning over the duration—to the mental health group I was convinced to join. Some background here. My regular therapist attempted to get me to go, but I refused, even though it was only temporary. This was before I started budgeting the month’s transit fees with the rest of my bills, so I really had no idea how much money I’d have left for “extra” transit trips each month. So I said no. Well, the primary facilitator of the group called me directly and reasoned me into going. I forget what she said about it, only that the way she explained it made it sound like it would be worth a try.

Besides the point, I’ve made mental health progress in that group, and had a number of epiphanies about my personal and interpersonal lives through it.

One of those personal epiphanies was realizing how much I wanted a cat. This occurred during our group session last week, when it was only the primary facilitator, her assistant, and me and one other patient. I forget how we got on the topic, but he passed around his phone with a picture of him with a Husky puppy hung over his shoulder. The yearning hit hard right then, and I mentioned wanting a cat.

Everyone looked at me and the facilitator asked, “Why don’t you have one?” in disbelief.

And I realized something. I’d been holding back for bogus reasons for the past couple years. I’d managed to straighten my finances out enough to where I still had a bit of a savings even after a bunch of spending I’d been doing. I felt emotionally ready—in other words, the thought of taking responsibility for another living creature didn’t scare the living daylights out of me—seriously, this was almost an anxiety issue before, and still is in some respects.

The remainder of the group was spent discussing how pets can enrich our lives. By the time we left, I was high on the idea of getting a cat. I even had it all planned. I’d get a young adult cat, maybe one or two years old. Preferably black, but I’d take any who seemed eager to leave the shelter with me. Male or female didn’t matter; as I discovered over the intervening days, I was as likely to refer to the expected cat as “it” as I was as “he” or “she,” I really didn’t care.

I wrote little, slept poorly due to excitement, one or two nights not even sleeping at all—especially that first night when I was so full of the thrill of giving myself permission to get a cat. And I talked almost incessantly abut the cat I wanted to get to my closest friend—to the point where she’d joke about how obsessed I was. I made a list of cat supplies and accessories the cat would need, considered names (in case the name the cat came with was unappealing to me), researched shelters where I could go to adopt, and set the ball rolling on getting permission to bring the cat into my home (I thought I needed to have my therapist or psych doc fill out a form for my manager). Also, I researched prices on expensive items, ingredients in the various foods I learned my local Smith’s store carried, and polled cat-owning friends on what to avoid and what to do for my cat. I even typed up a list of Kitty Care Questions for me to ask the veterinarian I planned to take my cat to (the same one my mom’s dog goes to).

So, as you can see, I went from ready to prepared.

To Be Continued . . .