A Change to the Family Dynamic
There’s a certain tone I’ve wanted to set with this place. One of happiness, if not joy. Of course there will be exceptions to this rule. Posts that weigh a little heavier than others or deal with subjects that are, in and of themselves, more negative in nature. But in aggregate? Happiness. Upbeat. A little lighter than what might otherwise fill the daily news cycles.
That has been a little more difficult of late, as you might imagine, and I think — at least in part — leads to my having posted less, even above and beyond the reason of more limited time.
Today’s post I’d like to be able to return to that former tone in full — but it would also be wrong, I think, not to at least acknowledge the sadness of the situation as well.
Sophie (The Sad Story)
This here is Sophie. She was my mother’s cat. About 9 years old, and a tiny bit on the chonk side of things. (OK, perhaps a bit more than a tiny bit.)
Sophie was a rescue cat, and incredibly timid. Other than my mother, she only really got used to us kids. Everyone else was perceived to be a mortal threat, more or less.
After Mum passed, we visited her daily and fed and kept her company at Mum’s house for a time — but it started to become clear she was perhaps aware that Mum wasn’t coming back and was getting lonelier. She would jump up on our laps for attention if we sat down there, not something Sophie was known to do, generally speaking!
The plan had always been to move Sophie to my place, but before the signs of loneliness, we thought to hold off until we had to sell Mum’s house. Let Sophie stay in her home as long as possible — as we all knew the move was going to be fairly traumatic.
And it was.
She was here a week. By the end of that time, once everyone else went to bed she was willing to be a little more brave and explore the next part of the house outside of her safe room. But during the day she would just hide for the most part. When she would emerge from a hiding spot, the first sign of footsteps in the hallway or other unfamiliar noise, and bam, back to hiding immediately.
In short, not having a great time of things. I do think that ultimately, she may well have adapted. As dire a picture as I paint there, there were signs of hope. For instance, she did allow my youngest son to hand feed her a treat at one point, although it was tentatively taken and then nommed on from a safer distance.
(Why is there nearly always a but?)
…An accident at the end of her first week with us resulted in Sophie being able to make an escape from the house. From the egress point she found, even had she been so inclined to come back inside immediately, she wouldn’t have been able to.
This resulted in two, nearly three weeks, of searching, sightings on security camera, and having a humane trap set outside at the feeding station we’d setup for her. She almooost went in the trap on a couple of occasions, but being a rescue, she was seemingly wise in the way of human traps and not having a bar of it.
Before we could recover her, she was struck by a car a few roads away from where we live. So her roaming territory had expanded quite far over the weeks she was outdoors. Someone who had seen one of my flyers called and let me know. I’d seen her on our security cameras just that morning, so was sure there had been a mistake at first. But as the description of the collar came through, it became clearer that it wasn’t a mistake.
I suppose that if there was to be a point of solace here, it is that Mum and Sophie are together again. They loved each other a great deal, and it was clear that Sophie (while perhaps eventually being able to adapt) was not having a good time of things in the process.
Diamond (The Happy Story)
Something I didn’t mention in Sophie’s story — I’m a cat lover. No hate for Dogs, but I’ve never owned one and, by preference, would have a cat or two in our lives at all times.
But it has been some 23-odd years since I’ve had a cat, and that is down to one simple fact: My wife is terrified of cats. No distinct, conscious reason as to why, but it runs deep.
So for my wife to accept Sophie into our home was a really big deal. A big deal that both I and my mother (we made the plan to have Sophie come with us a year or two ago) were incredibly grateful for.
My wife’s thinking was that Sophie being a timid cat, Sophie would want about as much to do with her, as she did with Sophie. I should also really stress the point again that my wife doesn’t dislike cats. She thinks their antics are as cute as the next person does. Just those antics need to be kept at a safe distance. Preferably in another household entirely, where she doesn’t need to live… or visit that often.
All of which to say, it was an incredibly huge deal for my wife to suggest that we carry on my Mother’s tradition of rescuing timid, black and white cats. (Sophie was, very much, not Mum’s first.)
The kitten (~6 months old though) in the series of pictures above.
Diamond had been rescued from the rafters of a retirement village, perhaps a little older than is ‘ideal’ for socialisation. Even with the amazing work of the foster family that ultimately took her in, it was never entirely certain Diamond would get over her fear of humans enough to be placed in another home.
Diamond had had no visitors before us after being with the foster family for some months. We were told Diamond had started to trust their daughter somewhat but was probably never going to be an entirely comfortable cat, let alone a lap cat.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and I submit to you the photo (probably) to the left of this text.
Diamond has adapted really well to her situation here, now. Although it wasn’t without a few rough starts. For example: I did not previously know that there was essentially a whole side ‘passage’ type thing behind the fridge and pantry area. I do now. Diamond found it the very first day she was allowed to explore beyond her safe room.
To make matters worse, Diamond is not especially food motivated. She can take or leave even the tastiest of cat treats a lot of the time.
Nonetheless, after having my son and wife go out for a while, I was able to coax Diamond out of the new network to Narnia she had found, and then seal it up with some cardboard. Of course, the next time she was allowed out to explore and got spooked, she bolted straight for it and got even more afraid when that avenue of escape and hiding was no longer there.
That reset her progress a little, and so we spent another day or two just in the safe room getting used to the noises of the house (in particular, shoes on the floor and the opening of one of the main exterior doors were big triggers to hide for a bit).
Fast forward to now, and, well — you can see that she has decided that perhaps humans aren’t all bad and having a lap to sit in might not be the worst thing ever, especially while so cold.
I’ve been having my youngest help prepare her meals each day, and he is probably her second-most favourite being in all the universe now as a result.
As for my wife — she’s doing OK too, and for the most part at least, finds their encounters comical. More than once they’ve found themselves at an impasse with a doorway where both wish to pass through but not go by each other. For better or worse though, Diamond has adapted to my wife more quickly than the reverse. So Diamond is now curious to sniff and know more about this mysterious entity who seems to pass as a ship in the night.