• Nathira Salim

Pet Support

Welcome back to my blog peeps!

Many things have been written about cancer by ladies and gentlemen way before me. In fact it is through their blogs, articles, books, research papers, podcasts and vlogs, that many people diagnosed with cancer have a clearer idea of what they are dealing with compared to just ten years ago. It is through their hard work, their sheer will to provide clarity for the upcoming generation, that many lives are being saved today.

I have read many cancer survivor's blog posts and books, and they have written openly about their struggles and how their world came to a standstill as well and how they suddenly found themselves on the "other side". The fact that they all struggled with the grind is the one thing we people with cancer relate to. The support of their family and friends were paramount in their long and arduous journey they have said or written.

As such, my journey is supported by many people as well and in my case my non human child is also a kind of support.

I have not mentioned much about my kids in this website due to their privacy, They are older now and very fussy about their privacy and such so I have to be careful about their 'feelings' and all. My non human child is such a 'person' as well.

That Dreamy -  watching me from the headboard
Forgive the dusty headboard

My non human daughter in this case is my female feline, whose name is Dreaminah and she's now 6.5 years old. I adopted her from SPCA when she was only six months old. She was a gift to my son who wanted a cat as his Eid wish. She is a very typical cat - she does not do well with commands and threats, she's a loner and she wants things in her own way at her own time. She is not allocated a spot in this house. She sleeps wherever she finds comfort in - it could be the guest room bed, my son's bed, our bed, any one of the couches in the living room. Anywhere. She's scratched all the furnitures in this house and we have them out in open display for the whole world to see who the actual boss in the house is. I have so much shame I actively avoid inviting people over.

But - there's always a but - she's a very loving baby - to me. She does not mind slapping her brother lightly with her paws (claws retracted) when he bothers her - or chew her dad's hand without putting a strain on her jaws. But when it comes to me - we all know her love is biased.

When there are long staying guests around like my in- laws - she avoids them and will go into hibernate mode from early as 7am in the morning till we come back from work at 8pm. My father in law will call me to report the cat as lost, after looking high and low for her. But when I come back home, she will saunter out from her hidden spot, meow as loud as she can and rub her body against my knees. Every one at home are always amazed at how she chooses to grant her presence only after hearing my voice. When I am at home, she's always by my side sitting next to me. When I am working on my home office desk, she's up there with me watching me work, or having a quiet nap. If its not at the desk it will at the guest room bed where she has her eyes on me. If I am in any one room with the door closed, she will meow the house down till someone gives in and opens the door for her, She will give a sound and run in - jump up to the bed where I am and makes the spot next to me her nap corner.

On the desk with my boys

About four years ago - Dreamy ( her actual SPCA name), had a bad fall resulting in all her limbs being broken. The vet somehow allayed our fears saying that cats have amazing recovering abilities and that I should give it time to recover instead of thinking about surgery to fix her legs. Both her hind legs were crushed as seen in her X Ray.

When I brought her home, I set up my son's hidden closet in his double deck bed as her resting spot since she can't jump. I made it comfortable for her to lie in with small mattress and fabrics that she liked, I placed water and food next to her and sat next to her. It hurt to see her like that actually.

Every day, I would pick her up and place her in my lap and say prayers of recovery for her while I stroke her bandaged legs. I would talk to her softly and encourage her to stay strong and healthy and that she will be fine. I don't know if she got what I meant, but she would lie quietly and purr on my lap. She recovered in three months and seeing her jump up and down the couch always made everyone at home happy.

Fast forward to 2020, I came back home from my first surgery in August and was resting on the couch while my mum was preparing lunch for me. Since I had surgery on both my breasts, I was not able to move much without feeling pain in my upper body and back. I was also told by my family members to not keep the cat next to me or even carry her - so my hubby tried his best to keep her away from me at least till I am good enough to carry her. Their concern was that the cat would jump on me or hurt me or something like that. I managed to stay away from her the first day although it was hard to hear her meowing at my room door step - my mum had the cat sleeping in with her in the guest room that night.

The second day - while I was again on the couch after my breakfast - the cat made its way up to the couch. I was sitting in one corner of the couch and she jumped up at the other end of it. It was a three seater sofa by the way.

But this is where things got interesting for me. She looked at me and meowed. Then she made her way to me - but slowly. Thats not her style really, She would jump, come over to my lap, make her self comfortable and look up to me waiting for her massage. No waiting game there. But this time, she walked slowly over to me. Then she put one of her front leg on my lap and meowed. I was caught off guard really, Then, she slowly, and I really mean slowly, as if her movements will hurt me - she very slowly yet lightly, climbed up, never putting her legs on my breasts or anywhere on my top made herself comfortable on my lap and she looked up at me and meowed. Did she know I was hurting? Cos that's what I thought, My baby girl was trying not to hurt me cos she knew I was hurt? I mean I don't know if cats know their humans are in pain or not. I thought only dogs were good at that stuff. I stroked her and told her I am fine and asked her not to worry. She kind of gave me that closed eye look as if she understood. Ever since I came back from my surgery, she's been more closer to me than before.

Nowadays if I don't see her I wonder where she's gone. When I am sleeping, highly fatigued, she would be on the bed sleeping next to me at my hubby's spot, My arms would be next to her for her to rest if she wants to but most of the time, she rather sleep with her head on the bed. Having pets, especially pets you can hold and stroke is highly beneficial for ones health I heard. It sort of calms you down and makes your heart beat slower or something like that.

After one of my biopsy in July 2020

Every time I am in the bed thinking of my life and about my chemo - I stroke Dreamy next to me and I will not lie and tell you bullcrap that all my fears about cancer is gone - of course not. But it calms me down. Its like some one is watching over you and calming you down. Like how I calmed her down with my prayers when she was hurt.

Pets are often overlooked as a support system for patients with cancer. Having pets have helped many patients with terminal disease cope with their struggle and their daily grind and somehow not much has been mentioned about them. Love them, treat them as your own, and watch them love you like you are the only one in their universe.

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