When you’re in a deep depression it can be impossible to see your way forward, and you pray for a glimmer of light to guide you through the dark days. In Samantha Corcoran’s case, this glimmer of light was ginger.
Clinical depression and anxiety had hit Samantha hard. The 31-year-old, from Cambridge, was forced to give up her job as a trainee accountant because of her worsening condition.
“At my worst, I was unable to leave the house on my own,” she recounts. “I was suicidal, harming myself, spending my time sleeping through most days, and having terrible panic attacks. I felt there was no way out. I felt lost and a complete failure. I just wanted life to stop.”
Her GP prescribed Samantha anti-depressants and she started seeing a counsellor. However, she was spending many hours alone during the day while her fiancé was at work and the loneliness was difficult to cope with.
A FELINE COMPANION
“I really wanted a cat, but my fiancé was reluctant at first. We live in a flat so I started to look online for a cat who needed to be indoors only. Then, on the Blue Cross website, we saw Jasper — he was cat of the week and his profile ticked all the right boxes for us.”
Handsome Jasper had found himself in the Cambridge rescue centre through no fault of his own. He was the beloved pet of an elderly woman for the first nine years of his life until she passed away. Vets at the Blue Cross then discovered that Jasper had feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which causes affected animals to have a weaker immune system. For this reason, and to stop the virus spreading, Jasper was being rehomed as an indoor-only cat.
But things were looking bleak for Jasper. The poor stripy moggy was confused and upset by his move to the centre and missing his deceased owner. He also had ear polyps and had to have some teeth removed that were causing him pain.
Jasper had been rehomed once but had been returned within a day — with tales of a damaged sofa and new-found allergies. As an older cat with FIV, he sadly wasn’t being considered for rehoming by many visitors.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Yet for Samantha, it was love at first sight when she met him at the rescue centre: “He came out to see us immediately and melted my heart at once,” she says. “It’s a perfect match because Jasper, like me, is a little poorly. But to me, he is perfect.
“At nine, he was also a little older than most of the other cats at the Blue Cross, which may have put other people off, along with the FIV, but I warmed to his age and wanted to offer him a lovely retirement home.”
The friendly feline became part of the family in February 2018 and he changed Samantha’s life.
Samantha explains: “Jasper gave me a reason to get up again. Just stroking him calmed me down and having him around the flat instantly made it more homely and much less lonely.
“I don’t know how he does it, but Jasper seems to know somehow when I am feeling at my worst and will often be extra affectionate. I had never had a cat before and Jasper has come into my life and helped me through some dark times. He is really amazing.”
Jasper’s unconditional love helped Samantha deal with her depression and anxiety problems: “He is so loving, sometimes he just puts his paw on me when he’s sitting next to me which is so cute. He’s just a great buddy — he’s still playful for his age, loves his food, loves company, and adores napping.”
Three months after his arrival, Samantha felt well enough to return to work part-time.
“Jasper’s companionship truly helped with my happiness and, although I was still nervous starting the new job, I managed it with his love and my fiancé’s support. More than a year later I am still working, and I have been able to increase my hours from 10 to 24.
“I still have my bad days and weeks but Jasper, my partner, and work have been there for me throughout. Jasper greets me every day at the door when I get back from work. It might be food he really wants, but it makes me feel wanted.”
CALMER AND MORE AFFECTIONATE
Samantha says that, as an older moggy, he is a fabulous companion and she would encourage potential new owners to consider the more senior cats needing homes, who are generally calmer and more affectionate.
And Jasper is happy as well to be in his new home with his new family.
“Whatever room I am in, he follows me in and settles there; he comes and sits on my lap and purrs.
“Jasper certainly has made the world a better place for me and my partner. He’s a life-changing cat.”