Throughout my entire journey with IC I have been privileged to live with a multitude of cat companions (some have entered and exited my life either through moving locations or sadly passing away) but my two cats who I have raised since they were kittens (Max and Cleo) have been with me before, during and after my IC was severe. Max (pictured in the photo in this blog) has always had a strong bond with me but the bond seemed to deepen whenever my pain progressed. Countless times over the years I have come home with severe IC pain (or a migraine headache or severe menstrual cramps) and he will appear by my side, sensing exactly where in my body the pain is residing and he will immediately lie next to that part of my body, gently purring me into sleep or calming my moaning during extreme pain. There is an immediate level of calm and comfort that overcomes my body when I feel him jump up on the bed that only intensifies when I hear is purring and when he stares into my eyes with his intense green-gold eyes. His stare alone seeming to say "I sense your pain. I am here now."
The corollary to my experience of comfort and calmness of my pain when Max is 'taking care of me' is that I have had IC relapses when I have lost cat companions from my life. The deaths of Pippin and then Oliver were a sharp almost cutting sensation with my emotional being and undergoing the seven stages of grief while mourning their presence in my life was as painful emotionally as the physical pain of IC flare to my physical body. There is no denying the fact that the bonds with an animal companion is as, or even more, intense than the connections we have with human companions. Their non-judgmental, pure love existence are the reason that I will always be grateful for my time shared with my animal companions. I know that their love and their ability to know when to take care of me in my deepest emotional or physical pain is something that I will never take for granted. And I must confess that in moments of severe pain I try to match the rumbling sound of Max's purr...there is something primal, ocean wave, and sounds from within the womb, about a cat's purr language. Maybe I am just a crazy cat lady but I know my IC is better for having cats in my life to care for me unconditionally.