Updated: Apr 4, 2021
The term "familiar" can mean different things to different people. Some believe the familiar is a manifestation of the self, whereas others believe it is a different being or a real animal. A familiar does not have to be a cat, contrary to common opinion. You can have a familiar spirit, an animal guide, or a helper of any species, and the animal that appears to you may signify something significant to you.
Guide And Protector
Throughout human history, the idea of the familiar has been a central component of different cultures. For example, the Romans claimed that each household had a familiar whose job it was to protect the family from harm, and shamans and medicine men of various tribal cultures have long revered animal spirits for their wisdom and assistance in magical workings.
This is a tough part for inexperienced witches to consider. You can't just "make" a familiar appear in front of you. They just pop up in your life, usually when you need them the most. If you're looking for a familiar, it could turn up, but don't count on it. And don't expect a familiar to remain in your life indefinitely. Some can, but as your circumstances and needs change, if their job is done, you can find that your familiar may fade away. But until then...