Cat Fever

Faith Pearce

(6 min read)

What is on my mind this week? In addition to recovering from Covid, I’ve had some changes in the house. Some of you may know I am a cat lover. I’ve had cats since I was about twelve. We have had many different cats over the years.

A while back, I lost one of my girl cats due to a road traffic incident, I was heartbroken. After a few weeks, I couldn’t bear the silence in the house. We talked about it and decided to look into adopting a kitten each (one for me and one for my daughter). After much searching, we found a litter and went to meet them. They were only a few weeks old. I knew as soon as I picked up ‘Spirit’ and he relaxed in my hand; he was mine. My daughter had fallen in love with a timid tiny, fluffy tabby she called Tigger. We picked up the two brothers when they were eight weeks old.

Those two kittens brought back the energy to our home. At the time, we were also fostering an old girl who mostly slept and kept to herself. About a year later, we took in a nine-week-old feral kitten as he wasn’t happy living with a dog. He never left my side and sat on my shoulder or right next to me.

We now had a total of four cats. Shortly after, sadly the old girl we were fostering deteriorated due to long-term kidney failure. She was 17 years old and passed over the rainbow bridge. In the following year, I became more and more involved in animal rescue. Fundraising for multiple cases and rescuing. I even shipped five cats from Egypt to us here in the U.K.

My daughter and I were now living in a house with eight cats.

You might be thinking oh my God eight cats? Are you crazy? Lots of people have asked me…why eight cats? But I love them. More than any other animal, I’ve always been drawn to cats. In particular, I am drawn to the more “difficult cases.” I tend to be attracted to those who are nervous, shy or withdrawn. The ones who need extra time to rebuild trust in humans.

Animals are easier to interact with, right? Their needs are simple. They want food, warmth and interaction. Once they feel safe to be themselves, they relax and thrive. They sense your emotions. They don’t argue, and they certainly don’t leave or disappoint you. No matter what time of day they’re always pleased when you are around, especially if you have treats.

I just realized…maybe I am trying to give them what I have never been able to give to myself.

It filled my soul to work with them. I was very patient giving them the time and space they needed to become cats again. I loved seeing the fear disappear from their eyes and watching their personalities develop. Where am I going with this?

One of the cats that came to us was a foster cat. He had bonded with one of the cats I was bringing over from Egypt, and I didn’t want to separate them at the time. Both of them were so scared at first. They wouldn’t even come anywhere near me for weeks.

It took months for them to let me touch them and interact. They were so skittish. But as time went on, they were gradually introduced to the rest of the pack. The foster cat didn’t fit in well with the others. He liked to dominate every situation and would consistently head-butt all the other cats. I’ve always felt he was very misunderstood. I just wanted to give him more time.

I gradually earned his confidence, and he would come and sit next to me. His attitude to the other cats didn’t improve. Daily he would find any cat, chase them around and repeatedly attack them to the point some of my cats had abscesses and open wounds. When I was working from home, I could separate and stop the attacks. It was a different story when I was away.

Every noise sent everyone the pack into hiding as they were constantly on edge afraid of the next attack. Even the cat he originally bonded with, hissed and rejected him. I knew deep down he needed to be in a home where he was the sole cat. When Covid hit, I wasn’t prepared to just let him go anywhere or dump him. I wanted to give him a little more time to see if he could improve. I continued to feel responsible, and I believed there must be something else I could do. I didn’t want to give up on him. So, he stayed – for an extra two years!

His behavior took us all on a rollercoaster ride. At times he became worse then he would get a little bit better only to decline again. That brings us to it now. After talking with a local rescue, they said they had rescuers who didn’t have other cats who could foster him.

I still felt guilty and responsible. I felt I was letting him down. Another part of me knew he needed to go, but the internal battle was intense!

It reminded me of quite a few situations where “changes” are needed. We often know it, yet we get stuck in the uncomfortable because it’s more “comfortable” and familiar to stay in the current situation even if we know it isn’t the right decision. I still couldn’t let go.

I was reading a blog today about “letting go” and perspectives. After someone who lost a hoodie and how much anger she held onto for so long about this piece of clothing. And how if she had let it go at the time, it wouldn’t have impacted so many actions following this event. The hoodie story reminded me I might need to reframe my current situation and breathe for a moment.

I looked back at what I have given this critter and how far he has come. He is now confident, and he can go on to live a much happier, sociable life as a single cat. I connected to the hoodie story because I, too, can hold onto things not realizing how it is impacting my actions and decisions.

He was collected last week by the rescue and left me with a parting gift of protest. It was like he knew exactly what was going on. As I was putting him into a crate, he revolted and left me with a deep scratch. It wasn’t quite the parting gift I was expecting, but perhaps there is a bit of a sign there. I left an impression on him, and he literally left an impression on me.

The following day, the energy in the house completely changed. It was lighter. There was no fighting. New relationships were being made. It was like a breath of fresh air to see and feel how much more relaxed everyone was.

“Why didn’t I do this sooner?” I asked myself. It’s hard not to become attached to an animal you have put so much time and love into. Even when you cannot provide the best environment for them, it is hard to let go. But it also takes courage to step back and put their needs before your own.

Whether it is a hoodie or a cat, letting go isn’t always easy. It is in the “why” we cannot let go that the lesson sits.

Faith Pearce 
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