When I was hard at work finishing off my debut novel, The Single Feather, I was aware of just how isolated I had become. Being physically disabled, with spinal cord injuries, getting out and about was full of challenges and so the book became my excuse to avoid them. This led to me not just becoming cut-off from the outside world but fearful of it as well.
I knew something needed to change. I asked my landlord if he would agree to me having a cat. Once I had that agreement on paper, I scoured the RSPCA website. That’s when I first spotted Izzy, a rather striking (and chubby) black ‘n’ white cat. I visited her and felt an immediate connection. Before long, I brought her home where, rather than running and hiding, she sat next to me, purring loudly and enjoying a belly rub!
Thankfully, Izzy arrived just in time to have a walk-on part in The Single Feather (page 67 in the paperback edition). I would like to say she also contributed to the cover design, but that was just a coincidence.
‘The blue-rinsed elderly lady from across the road was slowly watering various potted plants in her front yard. Her overweight black and white cat was watching from the doorway before it plodded out and collapsed on the pavement with its paws in the air.’ (The Single Feather p. 67)
As I write this Izzy is spread out in front of me in the garden, twitching as she drops off to sleep. She’s been with me for about three years now and I don’t know what I would do without her company.
As well as bringing joy, Izzy has helped me in other ways. For instance, when I slipped into a depressive episode last summer, it would have been very easy to give up. Knowing I had my furry friend to look after gave me a reason to live. A reason to get myself better.
You might wonder what happened regarding the social isolation. Well, it still is a problem, but with Izzy it is more manageable. During the past three years I have completed a degree via The Open University. I wouldn’t have been able to cope with the workload if the isolation was overwhelming. Izzy made the difference, she gave me strength,
I hope to do the MA in Creative Writing in the autumn and know that as I type out my assignments for that course, a black ‘n’ white cat will be purring at my feet. A loving companion who has saved my life.
Ruth F Hunt and Izzy.