letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Missing Emotional Support Animal

Editor:

This message is for my neighbors. I adopted Mama Cat four years ago after my roommates fostered her and her kittens. I had no intention of adopting a cat and wasn’t interested in fostering either. However, when Mama came into our home, she brought all her kittens into my bedroom and decided that was the place for her.

Soon enough she was sleeping in my bed every night and when it was time to give her kittens back to the shelter, I couldn’t part with Mama Cat. I felt that she had chosen me and I wanted to choose her back.

Over the last few years we’ve been through a lot, moving from East Coast to West Coast and from unhealthy to healthy relationships. Mama was there with me through a toxic relationship, helping me to get through it and the PTSD that resulted. She is constantly by my side; waiting by the bathroom while I get ready for bed, sleeping in my arms, in my lap wherever I sit during the day.

At every meal, she sits in the empty chair at the table with me, and swirls between my legs as I wash dishes. She helped me keep my reality steady when the world felt upside down, and the trust she has shown me has allowed me to believe in showing trust again to others.

She has been certified as an emotional support animal and has been the best friend and roommate that I could ask for. Over the years I have done my best to provide her with the best life I can think of, constantly striving to do better for her.

I met my current partner a bit over a year ago, and between him and Mama, I’ve had an incredible year of healing. He’s fallen for her as much as I have, and we moved in together to our new apartment in February. I loved that it had lots of light and windows and was big enough for her to run around and warmer than the last apartment where she was constantly snuggling under blankets for heat. She’s loved the new apartment and we watched her play and explore like we hadn’t seen all year.

Spring brought changes for everyone. In April my step-father passed away, and my mother asked us to come back to the East Coast once my school had finished. Worried about flying during COVID, we decided to drive out, but went back and forth for weeks about whether to bring Mama. We ultimately made the difficult decision to leave her with my partner’s brother as our cat sitter at the apartment, while we drove cross country.

On July 5th,  my partner’s brother let the cat out, and she didn’t return. We think it’s possible that she got lost or even stuck in a neighbor’s garage. Since finding out she was missing, my partner and I have spent every waking hour researching and posting about her. Even knowing how much I love her, I didn’t anticipate something like this to be so incredibly painful.

Yesterday morning my partner decided to fly back out to San Francisco to make signs and call around for her, hoping to get as much attention from neighbors as possible. Perhaps you’ll see the big signs he’s made hanging in the neighborhood.

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Mama Cat. Last seen in the Inner Sunset on the 1500 block of 16th Avenue at Irving Street .

I don’t post online often, so it feels uncomfortable for me to draw attention to our missing cat. But then I think of all that she’s given me, and how I want to do everything I can to give her a chance to get back to us, to have her home safely. I never understood before how strong our connections to animals can be. How this relationship and the trust built can heal both animals and people from trauma. I hope to share my story of healing with this sweet animal, for my neighbors who can help us to look for her, and for those further away who are looking for ways to do their own healing.

Thank you for reading about Mama Cat, and for helping us to look for her. She deserves all the help she can get. I can be reached at joyweinberg612@gmail.com or (786) 374-1729, with any tips or sightings. Thank you all.

Aly Connors

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