Saved by a Cat


Have you ever been saved by the love of an animal? Saved by a Cat? I was. I really was…I’m alive today because of a stray grey cat (Simon the Cat). It was 1983. I was just out of college and living on Abbott Avenue, just up the road from SMU. I had my first miserable job at the NBC Affiliate, Channel 5 News here is Dallas. I was a journalism major. My internship was there, and they hired me. The day my internship started I arrived at 7am, by 10am I knew I had just spent four years at SMU, and a load of money on something that I didn’t like. I stayed a few years in hopes of convincing myself I hadn’t truly made such a yucky choice.

As you know, most of the time it takes bad news to make news. I was the person that pulled the report of Princess Grace’s car crash off the wires. I called the morgue three times a day for updates. By the time I added the fourth lock to my apartment door, I knew I needed a change.

The catalyst for this change was a private plane crash at a small DFW airport. It killed a father, his little girl, and their pilot. A cameraman went out for photos. We only needed photos for a one-minute-twenty-second story. However, I stood in the editing booth looking at photos of things no one should see. I was asked to phone the family for details. I couldn’t do it—now firmly convinced this was not my path…I quit.

Now, how does this lead to a cat, you ask? Well, the back story to this misery is that I also was very alone in the world. My father had passed away from a sudden unexpected heart attack when I was thirteen. I was an only child and unbeknownst at the time, my mother had Borderline Personality Disorder. What this means is that I was her sport—her target. Anything possible to make me fail, or feel bad about myself was her end goal.

I was a runner. I started the morning my dad died. As the funeral home carried him out of the house, I dashed out the door running up-and-down the street until my Aunt Mary arrived and stopped me. I kept running…every day…running. By the time I graduated college, I had worked up to running ten-plus miles a day—a day.

I would roll out of bed, pull on my spandex, kneel at my bed and pray: “Dear God, Please kill me today. If you need a body quota, take me, not someone’s mother or daughter or sister or wife—take me.  I have no one.  I affect no one.  No one will miss me. Please Kill Me Today. Amen.”

Then I would go run three-plus miles, clean up, get dressed, expect to be killed, go to work—make some of the most beautiful artistic stuffed toys in the world carried by Neiman Marcus,  FAO, and many other stores, come home and run another three-plus miles. I usually couldn’t sleep, so I went to the SMU track between 10 p.m. and midnight for another three-plus miles…only to wash and repeat the next day. Today I laugh and say, “I couldn’t get killed if I ran down the freeway holding a dagger point side up! Yay!!!”

Since I was praying to die, I was also trying to figure out how to kill myself, but efficiently, painlessly and well done. I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t want to stay.

I lived in an apartment building with all the doors facing an inside hallway. I saw this grey cat a few times when I would come in at night. He would peek at me from behind the stairs. I always stood and talked to him for a few minutes.

One night there was a nasty electrical thunderstorm. It was about 5am when I heard a racket at my door. I looked out of the peep hole and saw nothing, but the noise was still there. I opened the door, looked down, and there he stood — desperate, wet and spraddle-legged, braced for anything as he reached the point of needing a human. 

We stared at each other, he said, “Meow”. I said, “Come in, your name’s Simon (I have no idea where that came from) and we’ll go to the vet.” I had no idea how to care for a cat. I think I actually offered him a bowl of milk! I couldn’t go back to sleep. I just stared at him. He was gun-metal grey in color, intense in personality, possessing a raspy deep voiced meow, thin as a bone, almost ghost-like, and awesome—he was home, and so was I!

I loved Simon so much, I couldn’t kill myself. I no longer prayed to die. In a complete reversal I started taking better care of myself. I was worried about what would happen to him if I wasn’t around. He hated everyone, but me. He hid in the drapes when my mother was in my apartment. One day he flew out—airborne—and bit her so badly on the thumb, she had to go to the doctor.

Simon slept on my pillow, followed me to the bathroom, sat on the counter while I cooked, rode in the car anchored between my neck and the head rest.  He was a traveling, “Love his Mama” kinda cat. I was offered an opportunity to teach English in China, I declined. I couldn’t leave Simon.

A Rare Picture of Simon

 I married Mac because for the first time ever, Simon liked someone else, so I thought I’d better pay attention to his instincts. Yep, I married Mac because my cat liked him. Well, it was the starting reason.

Years later I had a visit with a Huna Shaman. A woman. She knew nothing about me. She mentioned that one of the greatest sources of help in my lifetime will be from boy cats. Well, I couldn’t stop laughing. I thought that was such a silly thing to say. A few days later I thought about what she said, and she was right. Yes, I’m convinced I’m alive today because of a ghost-like, grey cat named Simon.





 Phebe Phillips submitted this touching account of how she and a cat rescued each other. She is a very accomplished person having, among other creative abilities, a unique goal involving the preservation of old forgotten books about cats through podcasts.  

She also has her own website which will afford many interesting topics to explore, whether one is a cat devotee or not.  Go ahead and discover a whole new world! Check it out:     ~   Marilu Shellie






Follow by Email