Kitten Shows Pet Mom the Healing Power of Unconditional Love

An adopted kitten named Salem helped Ainsley on her journey to recovery by bringing her love, support, and soft purrs.

Ainsley + Salem

Ainsley’s mental health had declined, but her journey to recovery brought her to a kitten named Salem who gave her the love and support she needed most. 

"When things got hard and I found it difficult to even get out of bed, Salem would come and lay on my chest, purring and licking my nose and forehead. From him, I experienced an unconditional love that shone through even the darkest of days."

My life in the later months of 2020 was pretty dark. As the pandemic raged and I was isolated from my friends, job, school, and any hope of normalcy, I had all the time in the world to ruminate in my poor self-image and my mental health had steeply declined. 

In January of 2021, I was diagnosed with anorexia and only a month later I was admitted to the hospital for malnutrition and a dangerously low heart rate. This was a low point in my life. Struggling to find the will to recover and constantly in a state of emotional turmoil, the thing that kept me going and motivated me to get better was the kitten that would be arriving from Arizona in a couple of short weeks. 

After talking to my therapist and doing research on the emotional and mental benefits of caring for an animal, my parents, aunt, and I searched for a kitten to adopt and bring into our home. After a while, we found a kitten that had been rescued from a hoarding situation, living in Arizona. Knowing that he was on the way inspired me to get well enough to go home. After a nine-day stay in the hospital, I was discharged and sent home and excitedly started preparing for a new addition to the family. 

When Salem arrived, it was an instant connection. After spending a few hours familiarizing himself with his new surroundings, he found a comfortable spot snuggled up next to me and promptly fell asleep. 

Although I was no longer in the hospital, I was still facing a lot of challenges. I had started a new treatment program and was experiencing anxiety about recovery and had many depressive episodes. When things got hard and I found it difficult to even get out of bed, Salem would come and lay on my chest, purring and licking my nose and forehead. From him, I experienced an unconditional love that shone through even the darkest of days. I found the motivation to take care of myself so I would be able to take care of him. He made each day of recovery bearable, and eventually, I was able to discharge from the treatment program. 

Salem continues to be my support in hard times and my motivation to keep myself healthy. His love pushed me to not give up and showed me that I am worthy of love even when I am at my worst. I am so grateful to have him 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 Ainsley won Newborn Kitten Rescue Inc. in Scottsdale, Arizona a 2021 Love Stories award.