The Unbreakable Human-Animal Bond

Share Email Pinterest Linkedin Twitter Facebook

51TgBPVMHPL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_ - Copy

By Kathy M. Finley

According to a recent survey of 16,000 dog and cat owners conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), 95% percent consider a pet part of their family and 92% say there is no reason they would ever give up their pet. In short, the survey shows that the human-animal bond is unbreakable.

For most of my life, I have had cats and felt close to them, but it wasn’t until I started writing about one remarkable cat of mine (Clio) that I learned the strength of the human-animal bond. When I started writing about her antics for a book, I realized how much she had affected my life and how much I had learned from her.

During a difficult time in my life, Clio was my best friend and companion. When I felt down and believed no one else in the world loved me, Clio was there. When I faced a health scare, I gained courage to accept whatever came my way because of her and how she managed multiple disabilities and two bouts with cancer. However, it wasn’t until she passed away that I realized just how unique she was and how much I had learned from her. As I crafted my book about her, I realized that she simultaneously had served as my therapist, entertainer, matchmaker, career coach, and minister.

Clio closeup 2

When Clio came into my life, I was in the midst of a bitter divorce. By watching Clio and her unbounded self-confidence, I restored my self-esteem and self-confidence. Clio was a remarkable cat. She was the runt of the litter, had a heart murmur, and developed cancer twice which left her with one eye and three legs.

As an adult, I had low self-esteem because I still suffered from the scars of being bullied as a child. That low self-esteem led me to enter an abusive marriage. When I received Clio as a birthday gift, my self-esteem was at an all-time low, and she served as my therapist. Watching Clio and her unbounded self-esteem allowed me to view myself in a positive light. After losing an eye and a leg, Clio continued to be the mischievous, rambunctious cat she was before being disabled, and that helped build my self-confidence.

Clio was also quite the entertainer. She would endlessly chase glitter balls through the house. She would lay on her side in the bathroom, push herself off with her back feet, and do an “electric slide” across the bathroom floor. She would go to the edge of the couch and do somersaults. Clio would get herself into awkward situations like tying herself to a bed post after playing with a ball of yarn. Her antics always made me laugh especially when I was down.

Several years after my divorce, I decided to date again, and Clio proved to be quite a matchmaker. She screened all my dates. My favorite chapter in my book was how Clio picked out my current husband and basically chased away those suitors she felt were inappropriate.

Clio was also a career coach. Because of her I developed self-confidence and realized if a one-eyed, three-legged cat could do almost anything cat thing she wanted to do, then what was standing in my way? When Clio was twelve, I had taken a job which seemed great at first but turned into a nightmare. I was miserable. Then I had an opportunity to go after a job that I previously would have thought was out of my league. I applied for the job, went through three intense interviews, and landed my dream job (from which I retired) because she gave me the courage and self-confidence to follow my dreams and believe in myself.

Finally, Clio served in the role of a minister to me. I often questioned whether God actually existed and whether there really was an afterlife. After her passing, she provided proof that we are not alone, and there is an afterlife. That helped me accept not only Clio’s passing but also my mother’s passing. I am now convinced we will be together again with our family, friends, and pets.

In short, the human-animal bond is incredible and unbreakable, and it is amazing what cats can teach us.

About the Author: Kathy M. Finley is a lifelong animal lover and advocate. She retired several years ago after leading nonprofit organizations for more than 40 years. In an effort to help save animals, Finley devotes her time to writing. Her recent book, My One-Eyed, Three-Legged Therapist: How My Cat Clio Saved Me (Purdue University Press – New Directions in the Human Animal Bond Series, 2023) recently won three awards from the Speak Up Talk Radio International Firebird Awards and was a finalist in the Feathered Quill Awards. Her book details how animals helped her face life’s challenges and is a testament to the strength of the human-animal bond. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband Jeff and her two cats, Jackson and Trixie. Kathy can be reached at [email protected] or her at her website – Her book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Purdue University Press


Help us do better! Was this article helpful and relevant?
What can you say about this article?
I am completely satisfied, I found useful information and tips in this article
Article was somewhat helpful, but could be improved
Want to share more?
Thank You for the feedback! We work to make the world a better place for cats, and we're getting better for you.
Avatar photo

About Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of experienced veterinarians, behaviorists, and other cat experts who are all dedicated to our mission of providing cat owners with the safest, most reliable information.