By Abe Villarreal

I never thought I would be so anxious about a cat. The last few days, coming in and out of the veterinarian office has been a bit taxing. Now, Nadya is home, and I know she's happy to be here.

When I adopted Nadya from the humane society in Silver City, she was about a year old. I first saw her in a room full of other cats that had been waiting to be taken in by a loving family, or maybe just a single guy in his thirties, for months. The pandemic was just in its infancy and I read in the newspaper that dog adoptions had spiked.

People were feeling in need of some extra company. I hadn't owned a pet since I was in high school, but there was always some kind of animal around the house, from what I remember. From dogs named Princess and Sparky to cats of all sizes and colors, and even a parakeet, there has always been a love for furry little guys in the Villarreal residence.

Working from home for the first couple of weeks, I too felt like I could pick up a new friend, so I made my way to the humane society and asked for the cat room. The helpful volunteer walked me to the back and as soon as I opened the door the meowing began. I inquired about the recent uptick in adoptions and was informed that the good news was mainly for dog lovers.

Most of the cats had been sitting patiently in their little cages for weeks, some for months. I'm not sure why I was immediately attracted to Nadya. She's one of those kinds of cats that is never featured on Hallmark cards. She doesn't have exotic prints or unique-looking eyes. She's all gray and plain.

I asked the lady about Nadya, who at the time was a young nameless feline out-of-towner. She told me that Nadya was found abandoned on the side of the highway in the long empty stretch between Silver City and Lordsburg. Someone had left her there with a few cans of cat food.

I didn't need to hear anymore. I asked if I could adopt her. To me, it didn't matter that she didn't look extravagant or wasn't some kind of special desired breed. It mattered that Nadya needed somebody, and apparently, I needed Nadya.

Over the next year and a half, Nadya and I have become best buds. She sits on me every morning to wake me up. No matter what room I walk into, she is there keeping tabs. When I sing a song, she bites my arm. Even she recognizes that I'm not cut out for showbiz.

When Nadya started feeling a little off about a week ago, she let me know by curling up in a ball shape and hiding in a room. She didn't bother me, but she showed me that she needed help. I took her to the vet, and after a few days of an I.V. drip and a little TLC she was back home, back to being the old Nadya I have grown to love.

I felt quite a bit of anxiety while she was gone. The house was empty and she was stuck in a cage like she was when I first found her. Somehow, deep inside, I knew she would be ok. After all, she has a name to live up to – Nadya. It's a Russian-based word and it means hope.

Throughout the last 16 months it's what she has given me, and I hope it's what I have given her.

Abe Villarreal writes about the people, culture, and traditions of America. He can be reached at abevillarreal@hotmail.com.

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