Just a Plain Old Cat!

Just a plain old gray & black cat!
One old soldiers PTSD story

After 15 years of operating our golf renovation business, in 2005 my wife and I closed the door when the golf construction bubble burst putting an end to our nomadic life style. I promised her that once we quit that life style I'd get her a house cat like the one we had prior to the business when traveling was just for vacations once or twice a year.

In 2006 I kept my part of the bargain, and after work one day I went down to the Denver Dumb Friends League based on a radio show promotion about a cat that was up for adoption at the center. When I got there I found the cat they were promoting wasn't what I was looking for. However, while I was checking it out, this other cat kept watching me and followed me from her cage no matter where I moved. I inquired as to what the story was with the gray/black stripped one, and the agent stated she'd been returned 3 times already but something drew me to her, or I should say, her to me. I landed up taking her home as a surprise for my wife, and little did I know what my life was about to be like.

Like any animal not use to being in a moving vehicle she was a bit traumatized and kept sticking her nose out of the box, and I kept touching her and trying to reassure her that everything was alright. Upon arrival at home I gave her to my wife who went nuts over her except, the cat didn't want anything to do with her and once she acclimated herself to the premises kept rubbing against me.

Now I've suffered from PTSD since my return from Nam in 1968 not knowing what was causing my issues. I went to the VA for some guidance and, needless to say, the way the VA treated us in those days, I walked away from the VA with a single finger salute and decided I would attempt to work my issues out myself. I leaned heavily on my faith reading books from Norman Vincent Peale, and got back into hockey to relieve my pent up tension. I also kept myself on an adrenalin high so I would be exhausted and able to sleep at night. At 61 when I finally blew out my knee one too many times I realized I had to find a better way to handle this issue which was now called PTSD. My wife kept telling me as she read articles in the Legion magazine, about the issue and, she along with our family doctor stated that I should go back to the VA for some counseling. After we closed our business I felt I should attempt to use my VA benefits for medical care. I qualified and at my first visit my primary care doctor, stated I should go talk to a counselor about the issue. Three strikes is the way I looked at it and gave in. It was the best thing I ever did and was sorry I didn't get more aggressive years earlier with them to help me.

Anyway, at one of my sessions my counselor brought up the fact that the VA has been working with companion dogs and horses as a means to help with the issue. I don't have anything against dogs but always felt they were too much work and stated to him, "I've got a companion cat at home"! We laughed over that statement but little did I know how true it was. That plain old gray and black cat seemed to be sent to me to address my issues.

One night I was having a bad time with flashbacks tossing and turning. Out of no where here she is next to me with a beanie baby in her mouth. She wasn't much of a meow-er mostly just made 'Grr' sounds. She stood over me, kept touching me with her front paw making her sound till I rolled over on my back. She set the bear down next to my shoulder and then climbed onto my chest, laid down and started purring. Every once and a while she would just touch my chin gently with her paw. Once I calmed down she would move to behind my knees and sleep there all night. If I had another incident, she would move back up on my chest doing the same thing until I relaxed. It got to where we had to put a third pillow in our bed for her because she kept pushing either my wife or myself off ours to be next to me. This process went on for 10 years.

In the evening, after I'd have a bad day and we would move to the family room to watch TV, she would climb up on my lap, curl up and just lay there purring again until I relaxed. We have a wet bar in the family room and when I would do FAC's we had to put a third stool at the bar for her. She would climb up sit between us, and it seemed she could sense when I needed a calming hand or I should say paw. It got to the point we jokingly would call her Miss Congeniality and started calling the bar area, 'Bar Cat's'. It didn't matter what evening we would sit there you could hear her coming down the stairs, and when her arthritis starting getting bad would sit at the base of the stool meowing or putting a paw on one of us to assist her in getting up on 'her' stool.

There where times I just wanted to be alone and it didn't bother her if I was out on the deck, on the patio, or sitting on the front patio she would be there. Sometimes just laying near me waiting for the appropriate time to reach out with that paw, give that little 'Grr' and wait to get up on my lap. When I just needed to talk things out she was the only one I felt comfortable with to bear my soul. I had learned years ago that opening up to non Vet's was a waste of time. I got sick of hearing, 'Oh I feel your pain, I can relate, or just watching their eyes start scanning the room to get away from what I needed to talk about. But never Macy. She would just sit or lay there purring and listen to me. Some nights I would get irritated at her, attempting to push her off the bed. That would just tick her off she would growl enough to where I knew who was boss! When I'd be gone for a few days she would meet me at the garage door or at the top of the kitchen stairs glaring down into the mud room with a look of, 'where the hell have you been?' on her face. She would shun me for a few hours but come evening there she was right next to me.

I lost her the first week of February this year to kidney failure. At first my wife and I thought she was just constipated or had a cold but, after the fourth day of just sleeping in her favorite chair not wanting me around we realized we better take her to the Vet. She was a real trooper, never cried, just tried to be there until the end. I guess over the years I did take her for advantage and didn't really realize how much she helped me these last 10 years. I will be lost without her and don't know if she can ever be replaced. As I stated earlier, I've always had a fondness for cats because of their independent attitude and ability to care for themselves. I've never had one who acted like this. She was one of a kind, and I really think she was sent by 'The Big Guy' upstairs to be my guardian angel and help me through dealing with those demons I carry from years ago. She's gone now and I grieve, but as Sarge use to say after we'd go through a convoy ambush, rocket or mortar attack, 'OK troops let's pick up the pieces, mount up and move out, we've got someplace to be and work to do'. This is just one old soldiers story. I hope it helps some of my brothers and sisters who are suffering through the same battle with their demons.

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