Layla was born in Milan, Italy, in a dresser drawer where her mom built herself a comfortable nest to give birth. When she was 5 months old, her birth mom's family decided to give her and her siblings away, but they started with her because she was black and they thought black cats were bad luck. That's when I adopted her. Her name was Nerina (meaning "little blackie" in Italian) but it was quite common in Italy for female black cats and I wanted something more original. I had been traveling a lot to Tunisia at the time, and I was also taking an Arabic class during my first year of college, so I decided to name her Layla, which means "night" in Arabic.|
Layla was the first pet I was entirely responsible for and I formed with her a bond I never experienced with the pets my family had while I was in middle and high school. We became almost telepathic. So, when I moved to Northern Virginia in 2003, I couldn't leave her behind with my dad. She came along and we bonded even more.
She became my muse while I was studying graphic design, fine arts, and photography at Northern Virginia Community College. This photo is actually an assignment for my B&W film photography class and was taken in 2005 or 2006, meaning she was 6 or 7 years old at the time. She was much chubbier and healthier back then, but she's always been gorgeous no matter what, even in the final days of her life when she only weighed 4.5 lb. Her beauty inspired many of my art, design, and photography projects, to the extent that my professors had to tell me to stop. We had a very happy life for a while, until my dad passed away in 2011. It was a huge loss because he was my only surviving parent, and he also was still supporting me financially while I was studying. Since then, we've been through a lot and I credit her for saving my life. When she was 15 and got diagnosed with kidney disease, I also adopted Arya, who's now saving my life. Both Arya and I are missing her terribly and we will love her forever.