“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” -Immanuel Kant

When I moved out on my own, I was still a teenager and while I thought I was grown; I was still very much a child. I was fearful about living in an apartment all by myself, so I rescued a kitten to keep me company. I named the cat Spike with the misguided logic that perhaps if anyone was following me to my apartment and heard me greet “Spike” they would think it was a big mean dog, and not a seven-ounce kitten.

When I brought Spike home, I quickly realized that not only did I know nothing about cats but also that I was much poorer than I thought I was. There were many weeks were Spike only ate eggs and rice, the same as me, because I couldn’t justify spending more on cat food than my own groceries.

Together Spike and I stumbled through life. For eight years he was my only constant companion and was always there for me. I battled with alcoholism and poor decision making but Spike was my saving grace. Sometimes I’d find myself far away from home with no reason to go back. But then I’d think of Spike and find my way home.

In my mid-twenties, I was married for seven months. I don’t think the man I was married to deserves to be called anything and should be forgot by everyone. But for the purposes of this story, I’ll call him AH for Asshat.

AH abused Spike by pulling out all his whiskers, which is about the cruelest thing you can do to a cat as they use their whiskers to orientate and balance themselves. The abuse was short lived because he went to prison for other misdeeds, and we moved on with our lives.

It was clear right away that my cat Spike did not care for AH. Once our fates had played out and we were safe, starting our new lives, I reflected on the importance of my cat’s opinion. From that day forth, I introduced everyone I brought into my life in any capacity to Spike and awaited his judgement.

Spike will be 26 years old next month. He has been with me my entire adult life. Spike loves my husband and kids and approves of everyone that enters our house. I’ve learned a lot from Spike, and I am a better person for knowing him.

When I started writing this blog, I wanted to tell a funny story about Spike of which there are plenty. What I’m reflecting on now is how mutually beneficial my relationships with animals have been and how fortunate we are to share our home with two dogs, one cat, and nine fish, all of which were rescued.

Today, I will be mindful of all the living creatures who cross my path and trust their judgement when it comes to the hearts of mankind.

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