Irene Droney & Sage

XJ8A3642aBefore Sage, I had never owned a pet of any sort but loved cats and had always wanted one. I had just started graduate school and gotten out of an abusive relationship. It was the start of a new chapter in my life and I felt like I was ready. I spent a lot of time reading GATC posts too! All the pictures and beautiful stories about women who had found cat adoption so important and life changing were really inspiring. They made me feel like I could do it too and made me want to adopt even more. I was planning to officially begin my search in the spring of 2018 and could not shut up about it.

A close friend of mine was an adoption counselor at Animal Haven shelter in Manhattan and I had talked with her endlessly about what I was looking for and what I felt like I could handle. I was originally going to start looking for a bonded pair of senior cats. Then, one day in December 2017, I got a phone call in the middle of the work day from my friend. She told me she thought the perfect cat had come in, that I would absolutely love her and that she was so sure, she had placed the cat on a soft hold already.XJ8A3546aI was hesitant. It was early, before I had officially planned to start looking. She was a young cat, only three years old at the time. But as soon as the first picture of her floofy coat and big blue eyes popped up in my messages, I had a feeling my friend was right. I went over to Animal Haven after work and ended up spending two hours lying on the floor in front of her crate, talking to her and petting her. It was really love at first sight and I took her home with me to Bushwick a few days later. In the beginning, I was insanely anxious. I was so worried I had bitten off more than I could chew; I was responsible for another living creature besides myself for the first time in my life. But once we started settling in together, it just felt right and I became a “pet person” faster than I ever expected.

Sage is truly the most loving, trusting, sweetest cat I have ever met, despite her frequently pretty grumpy looking, squished face. Having never owned a cat before, I didn’t know how much love and joy she would bring into my life. Before I adopted her, I remember being worried about hair everywhere and thinking that I would never let a pet sleep in my bed with me. I’m a changed person. Sage has truly become the light of my life. She is a constant source of entertainment and laughter for myself and friends (I had to make her her own Instagram! @smooshysage).XJ8A3604aShe is a total weirdo. She has this funny kind of deep meow that you would never expect from her tiny body (she’s only 7 pounds and I think most of it is fluff). She adores bird watching and even watching Youtube videos of birds. She always looks around the computer or phone to try and find them. Instead of rubbing the side of her face against people’s hands, she kind of just barges head on into them and stays there. When I come home after a day out, she is always waiting for me at the door meowing and when I open it and she sees it’s me, she gets really excited and just flops over onto the ground on her back (blocking the door, unfortunately, but shh don’t tell her that. Doors aren’t her strong suit). I’m so happy to come home to her every day.

Her face is so flat, often in photos and when she closes her eyes, she can look faceless. But when you can see it, she makes the most absurd faces, simultaneously the cutest and ugliest thing on the planet. I find myself exclaiming out loud so often about her cuteness and softness. 

XJ8A3668aResponsibility for Sage, loving her and being loved by her, helped me reclaim responsibility and love for myself. Since I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship only a few months before I adopted Sage, I felt like I was a shell of myself. All of my energy and time had been spent isolated and trying so hard to be someone who was lovable, worthy, good enough. I felt like I had lost a lot of who I was and had forgotten how to love myself. Adopting Sage reminded me that I hadn’t lost myself, I had just misplaced her. The change that happened in my life when I went from putting my energy into a relationship that only returned my effort and love with pain, to putting my energy into being the best possible cat mom I could be to Sage and becoming her home, it was like night and day for me. She gave me purpose, love, comfort. All the things I had tried so hard and so futilely to get out of my abusive relationship, she helped me find in myself and through her love. XJ8A3572aShe is a balm in times of sadness and anxiety. She cuddles with me at night and sleeps in bed with me. She will often wake me up in the morning by sitting on my chest or licking my face.

I was told at the shelter that Sage had been given up twice before I adopted her, which I don’t understand at all. I wish she hadn’t had to go through that hardship, she didn’t deserve it. But I’m so grateful that it brought her to me and so grateful for her unconditional love. And despite her occasionally reproachful looks, I think she’s grateful for mine too.


Irene Droney is originally from Boston, MA. She recently completed a master’s degree in social work research and is starting a new job as a developmental researcher at a non-profit research institute in August. She is also a classical singer, avid cyclist and of course, a cat lover. She lives with her cat Sage in Bushwick. 

girlsandtheircats

Photographer based in Brooklyn, NY.

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