Will my cat be okay while I’m away?

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    Ashley
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    I’m getting closer and closer to the day I leave for a 4-6 month long professional internship, and my only concern is the well being of my sweet cat.
    Before I get to my questions, I just want to give some insight on my relationship with my cat. Her name is Gumdrop and she is my whole world. A long time ago, she was actually a relative’s cat. The relative had a ton of cats and since Gumdrop is so shy, she was sort of neglected, not given as much attention as the others, and she also was attacked daily by some of the other cats. One time, my family and I agreed to sit all of the cats, and Gumdrop was drawn to me. She would spend hours in my room and follow me wherever I went. I adored her, and she cried when my relative took her home. I really wanted to keep her, but my relative wasn’t willing.
    A few years later, when I am now a college student and much more responsible, I get a call from that relative saying she needs to down size on the animals because she’s moving to an apartment, and she admitted that Gumdrop had never bonded with anyone like she had with me. She gave me some time to think about whether or not I wanted to take Gumdrop in. I really wasn’t sure anymore if I wanted Gumdrop, because years had passed and I truly doubted that Gumdrop would even know who I was if she saw me again, and I had so many things going on that I didn’t know if I could handle having a pet. My relative pressured me, and my mom agreed that if I decided I couldn’t handle the responsibility, she would take Gumdrop in.
    The moment I saw Gumdrop again, I knew I wanted her. All of my doubt faded away. She ran right to me, jumped in my lap, and we played for hours, just the two of us in my room. I told my mom I didn’t want to share any responsibility or ownership, that I wanted her to be my cat and I wanted to be the one to take care of her.
    An entire year has passed since then. We sleep in the same bed every single night. Gumdrop never leaves the room even once. She follows me everywhere I go. I mean, not even kidding, there are no exceptions. She follows me everywhere. And the few times that I have noticed that she wasn’t in the room with me, I would find out someone accidentally closed her in their room or something. If she has it her way, she’s right at my side. I make time to play with her every day. We’ve become family.
    Now, I’ve gone on several vacations, one that was 10 days long, and when I come home, she rubbed all over me, and it was as if I never left, although while I’m gone, my family says she’s hard to console because she waits by the door all of the time.
    This is why I’m worried. To be honest, Gumdrop has made me grow so much as a person. I truly love her. I don’t care if this makes me a crazy cat lady, but I view her as my baby, the way you would view a daughter. I would dive in front of her to save her. I would put her needs before my own no matter what. She has taught me what it means to truly love in this way. I’ve had nights where she wasn’t feeling well, and I got no sleep because I wanted to make sure she was alright. I give up the entire bed for her. We have intimate cuddle sessions where I feel like I’m the luckiest person to be her owner. I’ve never rolled my eyes at cleaning throw up or cleaning the litter. I’m usually smiling because it truly makes me happy to care for her. I’m not kidding, any expense for her is worth it to me.
    I probably sound crazy, but she means more to me than anything in the world, and the thought of losing her/her being sad, scared, or lonely, crushes me.
    So, if anyone is an expert on this, please help, because I’m still new to being a cat owner. I’m a year in and I do a lot of research, but I still am unsure about some things.
    This internship is prepaid housing, and I’m not allowed to bring cats, and I can’t afford it if I don’t take the housing. This internship is a dream of mine. I just have to go . . . but I can’t if she’s not going to be okay. My family has agreed to watch her and she’s used to them, but they don’t give her the kind of love that I do, and she isn’t as trusting of them as she is me. She had a hard life before living with us, and for some reason, she’s not scared of me at all, completely lets her guard down. They don’t scare her, but she’s cautious around them, and they’re not too willing to put in the effort to get closer to her when she pulls away. They will give her attention, feed her, take care of her, etc. but they (my mom and brother) both have their own cat now, and while Gumdrop gets along with the cats fine, their attention will probably be on their cats and I’m scared Gumdrop will be left out.
    What can I do to help her? Will she be alright? Should I go?
    And then here is my one selfish concern: Will things still be the same when I return? It could be 4 months, but I might extend to 6. Thing is, I would definitely be extending if I didn’t have a cat, and my brother thinks I shouldn’t let that stop me from extending. But I really just don’t know.
    I’ve read that cats can remember for years back and she did remember me when she saw me again last year. But that was her remembering spending a week with me. I want her to remember the incredible bond we’ve had and that I want us to have for the rest of her life. Will she forget about me?
    My main concern though is that she will be okay.
    Thank you so much for your help.

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