June 17, 2024

My Family Got Cats After a Death in the Family and They Helped Us Heal

  • My mom and I got kittens earlier this year after the death of my grandpa. 
  • My grandpa and my mom bonded over animals during her childhood. 
  • The experience has helped my mom and I heal and made our relationship stronger. 

I had no plans to get a pet before taking my kitten, Reggie, home in January. But then my mom can be a persuasive person. 

We had just lost my grandpa — my mom’s father — in October 2022 when she floated the idea of getting a cat. My mom has been an animal lover for her entire life, and I have been told many stories of how she and my grandpa would rescue stray and injured animals during her childhood. We also had many pets while I was growing up. 

My mom knew of a local family whose cat had given birth to three black-and-white kittens — two boys and a girl — in November. The family didn’t have room to keep the kittens, so a family friend took the female kitten, while my parents volunteered to take one of the males in January. 

reggie and reo

Reggie and Reo.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The family couldn’t find anyone to take the last male, and my mom suggested that my partner and I take him. 

It wasn’t the best time to get a pet. My partner and I had just moved into a new apartment, and I was still dealing with my own grief. But despite the circumstances, my mom got us excited about the prospect of two new family members, and lots of kitty playdates.

The kittens helped bring us closer together

My parents named their kitten Reo, while my partner and I named ours Reggie. 

My partner and I fell in love with Reggie as soon as we brought him home. He was timid initially, but since I worked from home we ended up spending a lot of time together. He would curl up on my lap as I worked at my desk, or if I was in a virtual meeting he would peek curiously at my coworkers through the screen. 

mikhaila reggie selfie

Mikhaila and her cat, Reggie, at her new apartment in Glasgow.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Working remotely can sometimes feel isolating, an experience which can be amplified when going through grief. But to this day, Reggie has helped me feel less lonely. Every morning, I look forward to the pitter-patter of his feet on my bedroom floor, which is usually followed by a playful nudge, or, if I’m lucky, a cuddle. He’s my own personal alarm clock. 

Similarly, Reo has helped my mom through a difficult time in her life. Now, every time I see her she’s beaming or laughing over something adorable Reo has done that day. 

As promised, we often have playdates with the cats. They are obsessed with each other, and when they are together they spend half the time play-fighting and the other half cuddling.

I love that the cats have allowed my mom and I to bond, just like she and her father bonded over their pets all those years ago. It turned out to be the best decision we’ve made.

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