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Last year, I had the worst year of my life. I had lost friends, boyfriends and places to live. My school work and social life suffered, but my mental health suffered the most. I moved cities, left jobs and didn’t write nearly enough. But someone has been with me through it all. 

If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen Scubs. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ve met her in all her glory.​

Scubs is an estimated seven year old grey tortie. She was originally named Missy, but now her full legal name is Scubbert Francine Charlotte Jones. Fun fact: her second middle name comes from a Her Campus Western icon, Charlotte Emeljanow. 

I had always loved cats and resonated with them. Even before I got Scubs, I got a tattoo on the back of my arm of a cat because I have always felt connected to them. I’d never had my own cat before, but I could totally understand why ancient civilizations used to worship them.

I rescued Scubs from The London Humane Society a little over a year ago. I had a friend who worked there and said that Scubs was absolutely mangled when she arrived. She had to nurse Scubs back to health. My first opinion of Scubs was, well, how stupid she looked with her tongue out. Her tongue sticks out most of the time because she had to get a few of her teeth extracted for a reason still unknown to me today. 

I had always assumed that Scubs had a tough life. She’s extremely small for a cat her age, so I deduced that she was probably malnourished in her pre-Shauna life. But even through her assumed life of neglect, she’s the perfect cat. 

She is affectionate and will trust absolutely anyone to pet her. She worships the heat to the point where last winter she burnt off half of her whiskers. She loves to lick coconut oil off of me and prefers her dinner to be liquidized. 

During the worst year of my life, Scubs was always by my side, or on my stomach, making biscuits. I would come home from work or school, and she would promptly fall on her belly and meow a sweet hello at me. To this day, I’m the only one she’ll let rub her belly, a privilege I am eternally thankful for. 

I had to go to group therapy for a little while, where we tracked our day-by-day. One of the group leaders asked me what I did for relaxation that week, and I told her I sat in bed with my cat. She said something that really stuck by me: “It’s amazing what animals can do for our mental health. They are so intuitive. They know exactly what you need.” 

And that’s so true. Scubs has taught me so much about myself and how to care for people. Feeding her got me into a routine that would get me out of bed. Even changing her litter got me out of bed. Having Scubs in my life has made me realize what it’s like to not exclusively worry about myself. Scubs truly gave me a reason to live at a time where I didn’t really think I could. 

Pets can truly change your perspective on life for the better, I know this first hand. Right now, Scubs is sleeping, curled up in a ball at the top of my bed, peaceful and aloof as always. She has no clue how much I love her, and I’m sure I have no clue how much she loves me. 

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Shauna Ruby Valchuk is HCW's 2019-20 Editor-in-Chief. She's in her fifth year studying Creative Writing, English, Language and Literature. Currently, she is working on her creative non-fiction thesis. She writes in her off days and publishes it on her on days and hopes to one day make money doing the stuff she loves surrounded by as many cats as legally allowed. 
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