I have always loved cats. Dogs are okay, and I like them fine, but I have a special affinity for cats. Since I was a kid, even walking down the street, I would see a cat and naturally call and put my hand down to give them a pet; 80% of the time, even a stranger cat would approach and allow me to pet it.
Growing up, when a new cat came into the house, I was the first to bond. The cats slept with me, and on top or under my bed was where they left their “presents” of bird beaks, feet, and feathers left over from…I don’t like to think about that part. I learned to avoid that by having indoor cats.
Suffice it to say, I have always been used to cats gravitating toward me…until April. We got April as a six-week-old kitten at a family pet store. We were there because I wanted a cat. The husband was reaching into the cage to pick up a kitten and she just walked up his arm to his shoulder, then walked down it and onto my arm and up to my shoulder. She was fearless. She was ours.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t mine. There were four people in our household, and April developed her own preferences and routines with each of us. We weren’t allowed to deviate from them, or she would let us know. She loved my youngest son, and slept with him every night. She loved the husband’s lap in the evenings. During the day, she loved it when my oldest son picked her up and carried her around the house like a baby–belly up–and bring her to me so I could pet her.
With me, she wanted to snuggle on the toilet. I couldn’t go to the bathroom without her scratching at the door, and she wasn’t satisfied with being in the same room; she had to be in my arms. And that was the only place and time I was allowed to pick her up and cuddle with her. I was allowed, however, to feed her, give her water, and clean up her vomit, which she would point out to me when I came home from work by primly sitting behind it.
This went on for years, until both kids moved out. Then the husband, April and I had to all learn new routines. Those years were hard on me, though. I wanted a cat who would love me and sit on my lap and cuddle with me. That is not what I had, and for years I swore that I wanted to get another kitten who would be mine, by God.
So why am I writing all this? I have a friend who was a saint and took in a 3 year old cat that needed a new home. She wants to be able to play and pet and cuddle with the cat, but it was traumatized in its former home, so it won’t allow any human contact. The cat spent a week under the bed, only coming out to eat and drink and do its business at night when my friend was asleep. After several weeks, it will now come out from under the bed, but it won’t let my friend anywhere near it. Its reaction when she tried was severe.
I feel for my friend. Everyone else is counseling her to give it time, but the reality is the cat may never be more than a begrudging pet. Having lived through having a cat who put severe limits on physical contact, I know I could not do it again. It may seem cold, but my advice was to think hard about what she wanted, because if she wanted a companion who would love her and snuggle with her, this cat was not it, and she would be better off returning it to its former owner and starting over with a cat or kitten who wasn’t emotionally scarred.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m off base and it will turn out all right. But I can’t help believe in my deepest heart, that my friend will never get the relationship and companionship she wants from this cat. And that’s a very sad thing.
Categories: Random Thoughts