Cat’s Love is the Best Medicine for Hospital Worker on the Frontline

For a hospital worker at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, an adopted cat offered solace and joy during a time of stress and isolation.

Debbie + Hotaru

As a hospital worker during the height of the pandemic, Debbie found her mental health declining. Then a Facetime call led to her spontaneous decision to adopt Hotaru—a choice that brought companionship and happiness during a time of isolation.

"Learning to care for Hotaru not only taught me to care for myself but to learn to love life again."

2020 was a crazy year, especially when working in a hospital right when the COVID pandemic hit. And it was even crazier when I started a new job as assistant administrative director of the laboratories at the same time. Because of the nature of my job and the environment I was in, I had to isolate myself from my family and friends to keep them safe.

Being isolated along with the workload that came with numerous COVID cases at the height of the pandemic started to become detrimental to my health. All these issues exacerbated my ongoing mental health issues with anxiety and panic disorders, and I realized I needed some joy in my life to make it through the pandemic.

One day while having “face wine time” with two of my girlfriends (who were both cat moms), I decided I should adopt a cat—and that’s how I fell upon the Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition. My wine-fueled search for a cat led to love at first sight when I spotted Hotaru. Ever since I officially adopted her, I’ve had someone that gives me joy to come home to after a long and hard day at the hospital.

The moment I arrive, Hotaru scampers to the door to greet me and rub herself against my legs. She’s happy that I am home—and that it’s feeding time. It did take her a while to open herself up to me, but it’s amazing to have a companion to watch TV with and to give her little head nuzzles (even if it annoys her).

She really helped pull me through a dark time during the COVID pandemic—so much so, I adopted another cat through Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition as well! So, I guess you can say I am now a full-blown cat momma.

And honestly, Hotaru has been so great for my mental health that even my doctor noticed an improvement in my emotional and mental wellbeing since I adopted her. She’s literally taken over my entire life and lives in my house rent-free, but I would never evict her—even though she scolds me when I come home late for dinner. Or even when I try to sleep in and she plops herself next to me to remind me that it’s breakfast time.

Learning to care for Hotaru not only taught me to care for myself but to learn to love life again. She’s given me so much companionship (even if she’s not a cuddler) and it’s honestly just been one of the most wonderful drunk decisions (probably the only one) that I’ve ever made in my life.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Debbie won Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition in Brooklyn, New York a 2021 Love Stories award.