We’ve had our cats for one year and seven months.
It’s not like the cute videos you see on YouTube (no, I’m not providing a link). The dog and cats don’t cuddle, they don’t play together, and when I leave in the morning to take the kids to school, the dog sneaks downstairs and eats the cat food. (Somehow the cats are still overweight. Not sure why.)
But it could be worse. Every so often I hear the dog scrabble after a cat; I seldom catch him in the act, but when I do, it seems he might be trying to play. Maybe. He’s never managed to catch them, and he’s never hurt them in any way. Likewise, he’s remained unscathed by sharp claws. Draq and Polo will consent to be in the same room with the dog– sometime even on the same bed. Mama, however, has been a different story.
Unlike her kittens, who have been indoors and with people since they were ten days old, Mama spent her first year of life fending for herself as a feral cat. She has adapted to life as a house cat with amazing ease. She shows no desire to leave the house, ever, and seems to understand that she is now dry, safe, and fed on a regular basis. As far as she’s concerned, she’s died and gone to heaven.
Except for the *&#@ dog.
Mama spent the first seven or so months hiding in the basement. If the dog came down, she hid under the couch. Slowly, slowly, she started coming upstairs. It got to the point where she would be in the hallway when Our Best Friend was present, but she’d keep a sharp eye on him. Any movement in her direction and she was down the stairs like a bullet.
The dog sleeps in my room. I started finding Mama on the dog’s bed in the middle of the night, which seemed pretty funny. Then I saw her in my room from time to time. Twice she was brave enough to get on the bed for about 30 seconds. She allowed Our Best Friend to come closer and closer. And finally, last week, we had an end-of-year miracle.
I came into the hallway from the living room, and stopped dead. There was Mama Cat, on the dog’s bed. There was the dog, lying on the floor not two feet away. She looked perfectly relaxed. I crouched down beside her and stroked her back; she purred. Then the dog shifted his position, and moved to within a foot of her. She didn’t move, though I felt her tense. He leaned forward, and sniffed. Their noses didn’t quite touch, but were only an inch or two from each other. Then he leaned back, and she continued to purr. For about one minute. Then she ran for it.
One year and seven months later, there is still pee on the floor beside the litter box a few times a week. I have to put this house on the market in a few months — I plan to buy stock in Febreeze. I never planned to have cats, not with this crazy mutt in the house. I never planned to keep three out of the four I rescued. But those kittens are my hand-raised babies. And Mama… Mama, who hides from me 90% of the time, who pees on the floor, has become the love of my life. In one year and seven months, this feral cat has never once scratched or bitten anyone. She’s fearful and timid but purrs like no one’s business. She still cuddles with her babies, and once in a blue moon I can hold her in my arms and kiss her on her fluffy head. I think even Our Best Friend knows she’s special.
* * * * *
Tomorrow is the start of 2015. My Oldest will graduate high school and my Youngest will graduate grade six. We plan to move to a new city in the summer, somewhere I might actually be able to find a job. I’m sure the move will traumatise Mama Cat no end. She’ll probably hide under the couch again for another year.
Somehow, flipping the calendar to a new year gives us the irrational hope that we will finally join a gym, lose weight, quit smoking, or achieve new professional heights. I just hope my little family, both human and fur-bearing, continues to grow in emotionally healthy ways. I hope Our Best Friend can learn to tolerate the cats trying to lick his ears. I hope Draq starts to stay on my lap for more than five minutes. I hope Polo still purrs when the Oldest is around a lot less. I hope Mama stops peeing on the floor. And I hope my kids, all of whom will transition to new schools next September, will succeed and be happy.
As for what I want for myself in 2015…. please leave me a blessing in the comments, and whatever you wish for me, I send the blessing back to you. Happy New Year.