I still remember the first time I saw her -- a tiny, gray and white kitten with white paws and an orange smudge above her eyes.

AmberShe was trying to make herself as small as possible and disappear from the world.  The scared, reclusive kitten touched my heart and I knew straight away that she was the kitten for me.  Amber, however, needed a lot of convincing!

She cried all the way home, and spent the next few days hiding under my bed, behind the fridge, behind the couch.  She had a knack for finding all the corners in our house where no one could reach her.  She cried every night, meowing her little heart out.  But slowly, I gained her trust.  When she finally ventured out from under my bed to eat, the sound of her crunching her kitty biscuits was music to my ears!

Over the years a special bond flourished between us.  I quickly learned that I could pat her and brush her, and scratch her under her chin, but I wasn't allowed to rub her tummy or pick her up.  She grew to trust my family, but would run and hide in fear whenever the door bell rang or a stranger came over.  If we were expecting visitors who we anticipated would stay for most of the evening, I started moving her food, water and litter tray upstairs so she wouldn't feel threatened.

AmberWe quickly became inseparable.  She was waiting for me when I got home from university or work and she sat up late with me while I studied, read or watched TV.

Then, when I was 19, I was raped and I started a rapid downward spiral into depression.  I stopped going to school and work, and I didn't get out of bed for weeks.

I was the one who was now becoming the traumatized soul hiding in the darkness, trying making myself as small as possible, wishing I could disappear from this dark, cruel world.

Amber, of course, understood perfectly and never left my side. She was a warm, furry bundle of comfort when no one or nothing else could reach me.

She purred while I cried, and with her head cocked, listened to my angry tirades about the world.  Then, at my lowest low, when the suicide word started floating around my brain, a cold, wet nose made me lift my head from my tear soaked pillow.

And there was Amber, with one of her ears turned inside out.

She looked so completely absurd, this royal feline, paws tucked daintily underneath her, tail curled perfectly around her, with one ear inside out... The laughter gurgled out from somewhere underneath all the darkness and pain I had been wallowing in for weeks and overflowed.

Amber regally endured my laughter with a look on her face that seemed to say, "You'd better make the most of this, human, because this is the last time I humiliate myself for your entertainment."  Still laughing, I fixed her ear and gave her a grateful cuddle.

That was the turning point for me.  I got out of bed, opened the curtains, and pulled myself together.  I started seeing a counsellor.

It was a long road to recovery, but I am here today because Amber reminded me how good it felt to laugh.  And that laughter dispersed the darkness long enough for me to get back onto my feet again.

Throughout our years together, Amber has brought a lot to my life.  But I will never forget that when I lost my faith in humanity, it was a cat that was able to restore my faith again.

She saved my life.


Shireen says, "I'm 25 and live in Sydney, Australia.  I'm finally able to tell this story, 6 years after it happened."




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