Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wendy's Progress

Our young feral cat, Wendy, continues to grow more sociable and trusting toward us, even though her progress is so slow that it seems to occur one molecule at a time. But there have been some good developments lately.

Wendy, enjoying the breeze when it was warm last week.

Instead of getting straight out of bed in the morning, I've been lingering to read a little more of Dodie Smith's 1948 novel I Capture the Castle. I saw the movie via Netflix last month and was eager to read the book. It's wonderful when a book turns out to be even better than you'd hoped. Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner has several copies for $15, in case you're interested. I've got a library book, and I want my own copy, but I didn't have my wallet when I went there. (If you're trying to save money, try leaving your wallet at home. Since I've started paying more attention to my shrinking finances, this simple technique is helping to save me from poverty and ruin, although I've also missed out on a lot of bargains on things like cheese during my long walks.)

Anyway, Wendy spends time on the bed to visit with me when I'm reading. (This is different from her choosing to lie on the bed while I happen to be there. Now she's making eye contact and paying attention to me!) A month ago, this would have been unheard-of. She jumps up right next to me, instead of keeping her distance over on the other side of the bed, as she would have done before. She will even walk across my legs or lie down on top of them now— I'm buried under a comforter and coverlets, so she may not realize that she's technically a Lap Cat — and she lets me pet her. This morning, she rolled over, purring, so I could stroke her fluffy white belly.

This has happened four times now, so it's becoming a fine morning ritual. If my husband comes into the room, she'll run away, but that's what we expect: Wendy's progress is very slow, one piece of fur at a time, it seems.

In the evenings, she'll jump on a chair one of us is sitting in, and walk around on the arms and the back, near enough so we can pet her. She'll purr and sashay around for a few minutes, until she decides to be wary of our stroking hand again.

She still won't voluntarily touch us. You know how some cats, even outdoor strays, will come right up to you and twine themselves around your legs? We're still not close to that degree of trust with Wendy after 16 months together. The most contact I've experienced is a slight brushing of her enormous tail against my leg as she passes me. (Oh, for her kitten days, when she'd sneak up and smack my backside as I sat at my computer, and quickly disappear.) But she's becoming more trusting and attention-seeking in the most minute increments. (Speaking of her tail, I just realized that, if there were Academy Awards for cats just being cats, Wendy's tail would belong in the Best Actress category, while the rest of Wendy might only get a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Her tail still overwhelms her.)

Naturally, we respond to any attention Wendy chooses to bestow on us with wonder, gratitude, praise and mild feelings of unworthiness. She has us well trained, and wrapped around her furry white paw. How will it be when things progress to the point where she'll plop herself into our laps without a second thought? Will we ever take her affections for granted instead of rejoicing?

It will probably be time to adopt another feral cat when that day comes.

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