I’m a cat person, and for me, my devotion to cats is directly linked to the abuse I endured as a child. When I was growing up, my cats were the only consistent source of companionship.
Growing up in an abusive environment that where I left left essentially to raise myself, my cats were always there to comfort me. I was often attacked and then left to cry in my room while my dad continued to rage outside my door. When the yelling stopped and all was quiet, I waited in the darkness, trying to stave off the loneliness that consumed me. My cat Athena somehow always knew when I was upset or lonely. She came to me, and curled up against me, purring away. It occurred to me that this animal had more compassion than my own parents. She calmed me down and connected me to feelings of safety and affection.
I spent a lot of time alone in my room growing up, feeling abandoned and hurting from the constant verbal attacks. My mother would occasionally come in after one of my dad’s rages, but usually it was to reinforce that it was my fault for upsetting him and to tell me I should try harder to please him. But my cat would always be there for me, and she knew how to comfort me. She knew that the best way to love someone is just to sit with them when they are hurting. Athena could sense when I was upset and when I wasn’t. In non-emergency situations, she was actually quite aloof and would try to bite anyone who got too close in her personal space. My cat had boundaries. She didn’t have the best personality, and she didn’t even need to. She gave me more consistent attention than anyone else in my family. She helped me calm down. In her own way, she reminded me of the good.
I have had cats all my life, and I am fiercely loyal to them. Today, my cats continue to make me feel calm and comforted. They remind me to breathe and relax, or maybe take a nap in a patch of sunlight. It is common for abused people to connect with animals. In my case, I think it may have saved my life.