Adopted Cat and Pet Mom Embark on Therapeutic Journey Together

For Amanda, an adopted cat named Ollie was the perfect partner on the path to mental health.

Amanda + Ollie

Stuck in a different part of the country during the pandemic, Amanda started having anxiety and panic attacks. Along with therapy, Amanda’s journey to mental health brought her to her perfect companion in healing: a cat named Ollie.

"It took him four weeks to leave the bathroom, two months to leave his couch hiding spot, and now almost nine months later, he’s a lap cat. Together, we learned to trust each other and overcome our anxiety."

My name is Amanda, and I am average. Average height, average weight, just average. There’s nothing that stands out about me in a crowd, and there’s really nothing that makes my story stand out from anyone else’s, except to me and my cat. 

To Ollie and me, our story is of the utmost importance, having a profound effect on both of our lives. 2020 was a hard year for the entire world because of the pandemic, and it was for me as well. Like I said, I’m average. I will spare you the full details, but long story short, I went on vacation right before the pandemic hit the U.S. As we were in flight back, while the borders were closing, half of my company was laid off. In the five months that followed, I had to relearn my entire career just to keep my job and my mother was diagnosed with cancer. 

I never made it home. I quite literally went on vacation and never went home. I’m still on the East Coast to this day. It was then that the anxiety and panic attacks started. I started waking up every single day with vertigo, heart palpitations, and trouble breathing. I started going to therapy to try to cope. 

About four months into therapy, my therapist suggested adopting a cat to ease my anxiety symptoms. Now, I’ve always wanted a dog but had never considered adopting a cat. I was so desperate to try anything to stop the panic attacks that last December, I drove to my local SPCA with a cat carrier to adopt a kitten. I stood outside in the cold for four hours waiting to step foot inside the SPCA, and when I finally got in and headed to the cats, I was told there weren’t any kittens left. 

I had my heart set on a kitten, but I kept looking at the cats, not quite ready to leave. Then a young volunteer casually mentioned there was one other cat in the kitten room and asked if I wanted to see him. I went to the kitten room and there he was. Not quite a kitten, not quite a cat. He was curled up hiding under a blanket and when I asked why he was the only one left in the room, the girl replied that he was too shy, scared, and anxious for most adopters. The second she said he was anxious, I knew he was meant for me.

Immediately I said I’d take him, and that was the day Ollie came home. It took him four weeks to leave the bathroom, two months to leave his couch hiding spot, and now almost nine months later, he’s a lap cat. Together, we learned to trust each other and overcome our anxiety. I ended up “graduating” from therapy two months ago, and now Ollie is a playful, fun-loving lap cat and my best friend.

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 Amanda won Brandywine Valley SPCA in West Chester, Pennsylvania a 2021 Love Stories award.