Over the last few days I have been thinking a lot about my cat, Dayna. I miss her so much and when I think about her my heart genuinely aches. The realisation that we would have to leave her behind was by far one of the hardest parts of my personal decision to travel. We were a family of three and we would be a family of two. I appreciate this may sound odd or irrational to some people so I will try to explain – but if you have a hairy best friend in your life you will probably already get it.
The day I got her, 3 years ago, it was my 28th birthday. My sister had stayed over the night before and was ‘in on the plan’ when J casually said he was nipping out to grab some orange juice to have with breakfast. I thought nothing of it as I had just received a video from my sister-in-law of my nephew singing happy birthday to me and was totally engrossed in watching his cuteness. A short while later when J came back and handed me a kitten I couldn’t believe it – I was crying so much and I just kept repeating ‘is it mine?’ and ‘can I keep it?’. I loved her immediately.
I’d been wanting a cat for as long as can remember but J kept telling me he didn’t want one, he couldn’t do with the cat hairs and it was too much responsibility/restricting for us to have a pet. From day one I was obsessed with rearing her to be a friendly, cuddly, loving cat and that’s exactly how she turned out. So how could I abandon her? In the lead up to us leaving it was just too painful to think about and I busied my mind with my pre-travel to do list. It was something that could have honestly stopped me from going. Luckily our very kind amazing friend, Ad, had offered to take care of her while we are away and knowing she would be with someone that would love and care for her, that I would trust with my life made the heartache a little easier.
The day we took her to her new home I was an absolute mess. I cried the whole two hour journey there and back, great big snotty can’t catch your breath sobs. The day after was even worse. I suffer from anxiety anyway but the ‘what have I done, how can I do this to her?’ thoughts were consuming me and having had chest pains for a couple of weeks with the stress of renting our house and packing our lives up,I had a panic attack. Now I realise it was an accumulation of numerous momentous decisions that we had made and not just solely my guilt over Dayna.
Ironically something that has helped me come to terms with leaving her behind is that when we went to see her a couple of weeks after her move, she didn’t give a shit about us! She had already divorced us in favour of the new man her life and I realised then she was going to be absolutely fine. Another thing that is helping, although it makes me happy and sad all in the same instant, is Ad sending us regular video updates of her doing great and being herself.
So my advice to you if you are thinking about travelling and have a pet in your family, you just need to the ride out the ‘what have I done?’ moments, focus on the reasons for your decision and remember that they are your feelings, not your pet’s. Cats especially are independent, they live in the moment, they don’t dwell on things or worry about the future so as long you are leaving them with someone you trust, they will be absolutely fine. Go and live your dream.