Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wendy, All Grown Up

What a difference a year makes. Here's Wendy in her foster home, almost exactly a year ago, when we first met her:

Wendy when she was still "Kitten 6"

She was quaking with fear that day, utterly terrified as she curled into a ball in her crate. Scared of people, of the big dog who lived in her foster home, and apparently nervous about eating and moving. She didn't know how to play. Looking into her frightened eyes, I knew she was definitely a feral "project." What I didn't know was how much she might relax and learn to enjoy being with people.

Here with us, she settled in quickly. She learned to play, and the older cats accepted her. Then Possum arrived and became her best friend and co-conspiritor. 

Wendy tries to shut Possum in the bookcase.

She continues to get more comfortable with us — in molecular increments. She recently started talking to us— we ask her questions in a high-pitched voice, and she responds in eloquent little squeaks. She even comes over to us once in while for petting. When she does, she's the loudest-purring cat I've ever had.

But she is often still absurdly skittish, inspiring me to rename myself "Evil Mommy." Evil Mommy gives Wendy lovely food, unearths her crunchy toy balls that get lost under furniture, strokes her and makes her purr, and lets her chase her favorite feather toy on a string. And then Wendy runs away: Evil Mommy is SO evil! Evil Mommy has no idea what she's doing wrong.

Wendy as an adolescent, contemplating whether to run.

The most obvious sign that Wendy still doesn't trust us, or feel bonded to us, is that she will never rub against our legs or deliberately touch us. (She's even stopped her kitten game of sneaking up and smacking me on the backside when I'm sitting at my desk.) When we pet her, she starts sashaying around, rubbing against nearby furniture or other cats; anything but us.

Tonight she jumped on the dinner table and sat with us, asking for attention. She even rolled over so we could rub her belly. That's progress. Then she dashed away. That's typical.

She has never once hissed or growled at us, or tried to bite or scratch us. Or the vet, or the groomer who gave her many stinky lime-sulfur dips back when she had ringworm. She is a perfect lady, which is unusual in temperamental calicos. She won't even swear at us, as our tortoiseshell Snicky does all the time.

Here she is, all grown up into a beautiful and very self-possessed Cat:

If, someday, she decides to jump into my lap and settle down — or just wind herself around my legs — I'll know for sure that all things are possible.

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