Few cats have it as good as Karen’s.
Not because it is showered with toys and catnip, which it isn’t. Or because it dines on the finest cat food money can buy, which it doesn’t.
Instead, Karen gives what she can afford – food, a few toys and lots of affection – to the coy and independent-minded kitty.
Her cat, a pretty black and white tabby, means everything to Karen, a resident at the Yukon Shelter. Because Karen has lived an unsettled life recently, she feels at home when Princess is with her.
“She means the world to me. She’s my pride and joy,” Karen says of her cat, who evades her affectionate grasp.
Karen, Princess and their belongings came to the Yukon in February. They left behind a home Karen felt unsafe and uncomfortable in. The roommate of six months was a tyrant, bossing her around, the homecare workers who came to help Karen and even Princess.
“I couldn’t stay there. I didn’t feel safe,” says Karen.
You can hear the disappointment as she explains her decision to leave the shared apartment. Karen spent 12 years living in a women’s shelter and housing before finally the chance came along to move into her own place. That lasted just six months before she put her foot down and told her roommate she had enough.
Still, she’s proud of herself for standing up to the bullying.
“I was in an abusive relationship before I came to the Bridge (Women’s Emergency Shelter). Before I was shy… wouldn’t say anything,” says Karen.
She credits her involvement with the Power of Women group run out of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre with her rediscovered confidence and strong voice.
“I stand up for myself. I have a voice and I’m not afraid to be heard,” says Karen, just as Princess pokes her head out from underneath her bed.
Now, if only her cat would listen to her.