This post and the following two are part of a series named Here For The Kittens and are all in collaboration with Cats Protection, the UK’s largest feline welfare charity…
You can find all the links for their social media here: Cats Protection’s LinkTr.ee
You can find the first post of this series here: http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2023/05/hereforthekittens-series-intro-managing.html
The second post is here:
Firstly, a massive thank you for all the lovely comments and feedback on the previous two posts in this series! You’re making a huge difference! This post – marking the second week with my little ragdoll kitten; Ruby – is all about things I’ve learnt from having her across this past week, and how I’ve coped with all of them. There’ll also, be a very special bit of some unseen ‘baby’ photos and videos of Ruby from just a few weeks old (as well as media from the past week!) …
Blog when Ruby’s sleeping
Towards the end of Ruby’s first week, I began to realise that I was really falling behind with all the work I needed to get done because it felt like she was just needing attention 24/7! And it was almost as though when I did finally sit down and start typing, Ruby was all over it – I mean it literally feels like her favourite activity has been managing to put my laptop on flight mode without me noticing!
So, when I voiced this to my Mum, she explained that it’s like when someone has a new baby and she said you’re taught to sleep when the baby is sleeping so she said maybe I need to be doing my work when Ruby is sleeping. Plus, that way if I’m free to play with her when she’s awake, I’m more likely to tire her out and then she might end up sleeping longer too! And initially I felt kind of terrible about this because I didn’t want it to seem like I’m not grateful or making the most of having her because I want to be doing some work too. At the end of the day though, I can’t just stop what I’m doing for as long as I have her; and the sooner she gets used to me needing to be on the computer sometimes, the easier it will be in the long run so that there’s no hardship in having to try to adapt to things when she’s older.
In addition to the joy of being able to indulge in my writing/blogging and working on digital projects, I’ve also found working when Ruby sleeps helpful because it’s meant that I’m not seeing her as any kind of nuisance when I want to work, and she just won’t let me! And this is an important point for me because it’s reminiscent of the fact that I don’t want to seem ungrateful for her and unappreciative of her presence. I don’t want people to read this and be saying “why did she bother getting a kitten if she’d rather be on her computer?!” because this definitely isn’t true! I mean, one huge reason for getting Ruby, was because I was feeling lonely (something I’ll talk about next) after noticing that my two bunnies were always in another room together and that they really barely interacted with me! So, believe me, I’m so grateful for Ruby – my little shadow!
Cat’s Protection actually have a ton of advice around playing with a kitten or cat, my two favourite articles/pages of theirs about this topic are:
How Ruby has taught me to be more aware of my thoughts and feelings
This might seem like a strange lesson to have learnt from having a kitten; but I thought it was a really important element to point out – especially with I’m NOT Disordered primarily being a mental health blog anyway!
So, the way in which Ruby has helped me to increase my awareness and recognition of my thoughts and feelings is due to that loneliness I was talking about with my bunnies. In case you missed the introduction post in this series (I linked it at the beginning of this post though!), I originally had a cat called Emmy and a bunny called Luna, but when Emmy was put to sleep a few months ago, the Vet suggested getting Luna another friend and pointed out that introducing two bunnies to each other would be a hell of a lot easier than a bunny and a kitten. And so, I got Gracie earlier this year. But in recent months, I began noticing and feeling really affected by the fact that now Gracie and Luna have bonded so well, it’s meant that they’re usually both in another room together washing each other or cuddled up sleeping. They had very little interaction with me – other than being fed, really!
The thought of this loneliness was really highlighted when my mental health relapsed in February this year and I was sectioned under section 2 of the 1983 Mental Health Act and hospitalised for ten days. The fact that I was discharged then though, didn’t mean everything was better and completely stable, it was still very up and down (mostly down though) after that and in the ‘down’ times, I knew that I would have really benefited from having a companion. And so, I decided to get Ruby…
As much as that was my motivation, it wasn’t until after Ruby had been here for over a week that I experienced the stark realisation that I actually hadn’t really appreciated just how lonely I had been and just how far that was impacting my mental health and, in turn, my safety. I described it as being similar to when you have a nap and then you wake up all refreshed and you think ‘I didn’t realise I’d been that tired!’ You’d known you were tired enough to need a nap, but you didn’t quite realise just how much of a difference that would make.
Having Ruby now, and recognising and definitely appreciating her company, has led me to consider what might have happened to my mental health and my safety had I not gotten her. How much worse could it have become? And so, she’s taught me that no matter how scary it may be, and no matter what it might mean to do so, it’s so important that you recognise any thoughts and feelings quickly, so that you can begin finding ways to manage them; whether that means encouraging them (where, they’re positive!) and coping with them (where they’re negative). In all honesty, this is something which I believed I had nailed ages ago after I found that regardless of having spent so many years trying to squash everything down, it just bubbled and then exploded out of me anyway! But, perhaps, I’ve become laxer about things and have stopped putting in so much effort because I thought I was managing to do it naturally now…
Rather than be sad about the thought of an ending, appreciate the journey on the way to it
Even after just two weeks with Ruby, I’ve noticed that she’s growing up/getting bigger already! And initially, this was kind of heart-breaking! I mean, as soon as I started posting photos of Ruby on social media and sending them to my Mum and best-friends, it felt like almost every single person who owned a cat made the comment “I miss when (enter cat’s name) was that size!” So, I kind of felt prepared for the notion that Ruby would grow quickly and made a promise from the day I got her to take at least one photo of her every day so as to really have the memories of her being so tiny.
This recognition that Ruby won’t stay this small forever, left me a little sad initially and at first, I thought that this was just because I wanted her to stay cute and tiny forever. But then, I realised that it went deeper than that; I wanted her to stay a kitten because the younger she is, the smaller the chance of losing her. And I think that, more often than not, an animal’s limited lifespan is really the hardest and most difficult factor in having a pet. Still feeling as though I lost Emmy just yesterday – when in fact it was months ago – has meant that the thought of losing a pet and considering how I’ll cope with that, is still quite raw and it’s a worrying thought that remains quite prominent and sadly, incredibly realistic when I’m thinking about any/all of my pets. And it’s to the point where I question how I would even get through another loss.
Watching Ruby playing though… Well, seeing her so happy and feeling her affection for me (she especially likes to gently pat my face with her paw when I’m napping or in bed!), has brought up a lot of very real, positive, contradictory thoughts and emotions. I’m no longer fearful of her growing up – in fact, I can’t wait! Not in a ‘rushing-her-life-away’ kind of way! It’s more about genuinely looking forward to sharing my life with her in watching her grow, seeing her bond with the bunnies develop, and teaching her simple things like the fact that she should respond to her name (which she almost has the hang of!) and learning the meaning of ‘no’ (which she is nowhere near mastering!). And then there’s the big things… I mean, I don’t envisage this house being my forever home, and I think I want children somewhere down the line… And the thought of Ruby being there for these things?
Well, it’s magical!
Don’t forget that after I purchased this Hello World sign: £5.99 from Phoenix Cove – to celebrate this series, the Etsy store have offered you lovely readers an exclusive discount code for 10% off their incredible products, just type in: HEREFORTHEKITTENS10 at the checkout! Also, you should go follow them on Instagram: Personalised Gifts, Decor, Wood Signs & More! (@phoenixcove.co) | Instagram
*Discount code valid until June 17th 2023*