It took a week. A week of going outside in the mornings and calling a cat who would come when I called, who would eat out of a dish on the ground in front of me and would rub her face against my legs but would jump away if I so much as twitched a finger. A week during which my Patient Husband told me, “Your friend is back” when we saw the injured stray sunning herself in the back yard (she almost never left it, except to go back into the woods) and one morning when I found the trap sprung only to find we’d trapped an extremely annoyed neighborhood cat who was not our Intended (and boy, did he tell me off!) And one day when, cooking a whole chicken, I went outside and tossed a piece of the gizzard into the cage and one to the cat (who devoured the one I’d tossed her, and wouldn’t go into the trap to finish the rest.)
And then, happiness.
Boy, was she mad. She was scared. She’d hurt her paws trying to dig her way out of the cage. But we had her. Triumphant, we had her.
We brought her to the animal shelter, who brought her to the vet, and the vet x-rayed her to find the break in her leg and figure out how bad it was.
That’s where I lose my faith in humanity again: her leg wasn’t broken. There are two bullets in the cat.
You know how it is, you’re out in the suburbs late at night, armed only with your trusty BB gun, when suddenly a menacing figure strolls out in front of you on the paved street, or perhaps it’s sitting in someone’s flower bed among the peonies, and fraught with terror, you have no choice but to defend yourself against this six-pound hellbeast with a taste for catnip.
So of course, I can fully understand why someone shot this stray kitty. Twice.
This is an old injury, but because of the way it messed up her shoulder, her leg is never going to function right again. The second bullet is near her spine.
I visited her at the shelter. The shelter worker who was helping us went in first, to a chorus of spits and growls. She came out, shaken. “You want to try?” Sure, I said. “Protect your face,” she told me.
Into the room I went. It’s the size of a closet. I stood by the back wall and talked to this growling, hissing bundle of hatred and mistrust. After a few minutes, she began rubbing her face on the cat tree where she was hiding. Two minutes more and she jumped to the floor. I huddled up in the corner, sitting totally still, and the cat started eating. She finished all her food, then turned to me, still growling.
And rubbed her face on my hands.
I kept totally still. She rubbed the rest of herself all over me, and the next time she put her face in my hands, I rubbed behind her ears.
That’s when she remembered: humans are good for pettings and lovings. Within two minutes, she was on my lap and purring. I knew right then that she could be socialized. It was going to be okay for her.
Her trip home tomorrow, maybe with more pictures if my camera doesn’t die.