By KATELYN MASSARELLI
I remember waiting four long years to get a Blu-Ray version of The Lion King when I was 10 years old, the agonizing time when the Disney Vault only released certain films at a time. My dad would tell me I wouldn’t care once it actually came out, but I did. There was something about The Lion King that stuck with me. Maybe it was the pain Simba felt after losing his father or the climb he makes to rise to power after defeating his Uncle Scar.
Maybe deep down I knew I would adopt my own little lion one day – the king of my quaint little apartment.
In 2001, my family and I adopted our first feline: a little black cat I named Kelly after my barbie-doll of the same name. Kelly (the cat) let me push her around in my pooh bear stroller and would sleep under my cherry-patterned covers every night. She was my best friend until she died of cancer. My world was shattered, but she taught me a lot about myself, especially that I love cats.
I love their sassy attitudes, their lovable and caring nature and how much personality they can fit into their tiny bodies. That’s why when the opportunity arose a few weeks ago, I adopted my first kitty since moving away from home.
His name is Simba.
The 7-year-old tabby is a chubby orange furred fluff ball. He resembled a small little lion minus the mane, but with large fangs sticking out of his mouth. His big green eyes could make even the coldest hearts melt.
He was sweet and gentle, but he was sad.
He was forced to leave his forever home when his owner was diagnosed with cancer and developed an allergy to him after receiving chemotherapy treatments. He was forced to leave the household and to say goodbye to his forever friend, the owner’s young daughter, who he waited for every afternoon when she got home from school.
My mom found him and immediately called me, telling me about his story. Hearing that he would have to be separated from his little girl, I knew I needed to take him. His situation reminded me of Kelly. Because of that, I needed to give him a good home.
My Simba’s life had been flipped upside down, and he was overwhelmed with unfamiliar territory as if Uncle Scar was going to pop out with his hyena clan. Simba needed a good old-fashioned sing-a-long to “Hakuna Matata.”
My new little lion emerged as the king of his new pride rock and made a run for the couch, hiding underneath, unsure what to do in his new environment. But, my roommate and I still sang along to The Lion King his first night at home. He eventually came out from under the couch and sat at my feet on my red chair and watched his animated self dance across the screen and become the king he was meant to be.
My roommate and I waited for him to get acquainted. He never made a sound unless to purr, appreciative of our scrubbies between his orange and pink ears. He adopted a specific hiding spot in my closet where I always found him when he got too flustered in his new home.
Despite his timid beginnings, Simba has become my new best friend. He doesn’t let me put him in a stroller and push him around our apartment like Kelly, but he definitely spends hours upon hours binge-watching Gossip Girl and Dr. Phil reruns with me. He purrs everytime Blair and Chuck (our favorites) come on the screen and he loves when family feuds ensue.
Simba loves to scare my roommate and I when we are cooking and he wants to hop up on the stove. It’s almost as if he gives us a sly smile every time we try and shoo him away from the kitchen when the stove is on. He loves to cause mischief and let his sassy side show.
Simba makes it easy to smile everyday. It seems that no matter what I have going on that day, he’s always there to make sure I wake up at 6 a.m. with a demanding “Meow” for food. If I’m being completely honest, the sight of his big eyes and wet nose in my face makes waking up at the crack of dawn a joy.
My miniature lion forgets his weight – a robust 20 pounds – and loves to lay on top of me when I have a harder time waking up. In when I finally wake up gasping for breath, he’s staring directly at me before he gives a big roar.
“Meow,” Simba says.
He’s never afraid to stick his whole face in his treat jar to get a few extra morsels before I see him stealing. The one thing I love about him is his absolute loyalty. No matter where I am in the apartment he’s never far behind and he switches between sleeping at my feet and sleeping near my face just in case he gets hungry.
Simba’s become more certain in the past few weeks. I feel his love and I hope he feels mine. No matter what time of night I come home after a long day, he comes running to the door meowing and making sure I know he’s coming.
It’s only been a few weeks with my orange kitty, but I have so much love in my heart for him. My future with Simba is bright. I vowed to give him a good home and offer the life he deserved. He deserves the plush lifestyle filled with tons of treats, catnip fishies, Gossip Girl and love.
Through every early morning and sassy attitudes, animals make for a world altering change. Simba has flipped my college lifestyle upside down and forced me to eliminate selfish tendencies and think about the other life I’m responsible for.
It’s a responsibility I wouldn’t change for the world.
Katelyn Massarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org