Friday, September 22, 2006

Bravery and Courage

My cat Frankie lived in a cage for the entire first year of her life. But the cage was only 3 ft x 2 ft, and she lived in there with her brother, who is twice her size, and neither of them could stand up or move about.

By the time they were rescued from this situation, both Frankie and Johnny's legs had suffered atrophy to some measure, to the point that Johnny's legs bow pretty badly and Frankie has had trouble with her back legs since I took her in.

Both cats were taken off the streets of New York City at the age of 5 weeks by some guy who kept hundreds and hundreds of cats in his small apartment in cages. I suppose he was trying to do good by them, but two cats living in a 3 x 2 cage is no life for them either.

For the first four years they lived with me, Frankie was terrified. She was afraid of people, and noise, her brother--pretty much anything and everything. If I tried to touch her when I was upright, she ran, even though she knew I was the one who fed her and took care of her.

She was less terrified if I was down on the floor with her. So I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor trying to pet her. She was always extremely cautious with me, and even at night she'd come into bed but stay in the most distant corner of the mattress. If I reached out to pet her, she would flee. If I held my hand an inch from her head to pet her, she would cringe on her haunches in terror, and then take off.

Over time I worked hard to reduce her fear. I kept at it and at it. I would pet her despite her fear, and speak to her softly. Still, if my hand headed in her direction, she would duck her head and cringe. It was really so sad to see.

But one night several weeks ago, I got in bed and immediately went to sleep. I woke up 1/2 hour later and realized that Frankie was no longer at the furthest end of the mattress, but up by my knees. I smiled to myself and went back to sleep, quite pleased with her bravery. I awoke again about an hour later, and I found her leaning against my hip. I spoke softly to her, and went back to sleep, very pleased with her progress.

The following morning, I woke up to find her facing me in the crook of my arm, inches away from my face. We looked into each others' eyes, and I smiled. I was so afraid that if I moved, she would jump out of bed and run away.

But she didn't run away. Instead, she moved her head toward me... and touched her nose to my nose.

Frankie has come a very long way on a difficult journey. I'm so proud of her bravery and courage.


Blogger Teri said...

awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, god that brought tears to the eyes.

I love kitties. keep at it, she'll calm down more. poor thing.

Sep 22, 2006, 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Zed said...

Teri, she's made tremendous progress. Now she sleeps in the crook of my arm every single night.

I hoping the day will come I can pick her up and hold her. We're not there yet, but I'm determined to see that happen--for her sake, not mine.

Sep 22, 2006, 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous jane said...

i love that she touched noses with you. :) that's pretty amazing. your doing a good thing, z.

Sep 22, 2006, 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

Wow...does this mean you might actually be a good person?

I'd kind of like to hear the cat's side of the story...

Sep 22, 2006, 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Javajabber said...

When we moved from CA to PA, a cat left abandoned by previous condo owners adopted us. But, it took 7 months from the time I started feeding her until she would let me touch the top of her head. She wouldn't come indoors. I bought her a dog house for winter. After 9 months, she finally came in the house. For only a few minutes at a time. After 12 months, she was sleeping by my side. She is now my shadow.

I don't understand how someone could abuse any animal ... or leave them behind as if they didn't matter.

You're a good person.

Sep 22, 2006, 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

me too Java, I get sick when I hear that people leave their pets behind or abuse them in any way. I want to find them and pound them into the ground.

Sep 22, 2006, 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Zed said...

Mr. Fab: I know I've been mean to you. But I can't help it. You bring out the worst in me. :)

Java: That was beautiful. It takes a LOT of work, but I do believe they come around. Some take longer than others, but it's so worth it. You did a good thing--and you're a pretty darn good person as well.

Teri, I worked off of a major highway, and every week new cats would show up on the office property. It was obvious they were previously owned by SOMEONE. Did they get lost or did the people abandon them? My guess is, they were abandoned in most cases--or someone carelessly let them out. Grrr. People.

Sep 22, 2006, 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Awesome post

I can't believe they had to
live in a cage for that long
- that's so sad =(

I'm so glad they
have a good home now!

Zed = Great Person!!!!!

Sep 22, 2006, 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Zed said...

Thanks Jen.

And it looks like Travis has found a happy home as well with you and Tim. Lucky boy that Travis, and he always looks so content... :)

Sep 22, 2006, 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Zed said...

I was typing at the computer before and Frankie just jumped up on the desk right in front of me. She looked at me like, what the heck am I doin'?, and then jumped down.

She's never done that before, and she didn't stay long, but "baby steps" were taken. Yea! My baby!

Sep 22, 2006, 3:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Zed, congratulations on winning the cat's trust. Poor little thing, to have been through all that. At least she has a good home now.

Sep 22, 2006, 5:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Zed said...

Thanks Lori.

She's my baby. And don't even get me started on how wonderful her brother Johnny is. I'M the lucky one.

Sep 22, 2006, 5:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

I am so moved by this, you know how I feel about my animals :)

Sep 22, 2006, 6:31:00 PM  
Anonymous nicole said...

OMG, that story has me near tears!!!!!!!!!

I'm so happy to hear that she's finally learned to trust you, though. I've been through so many times with poor shelter cats! :(

Sep 22, 2006, 7:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

OH I forgot to say pfft. Just because. so


Sep 22, 2006, 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

you almost lost your pffft with all this sentiment, didn't you?


Sep 22, 2006, 11:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Zed said...

It's 11:17 on the east coast, and I just got home--but not too late to say:

Pfft pfft pfft, and many more. :)

Nicole, me too. My heart so goes out to shelter cats and all they have to go through--and all who must be put down. Sad.

On a lighter note, we're into "pffting" around here, and I certainly wouldn't want to you to fell left out, so may I heartily say, Pfft, Nicole. Pfft. :)

Sep 22, 2006, 11:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Zed said...

Mel, I know. I'm nuts about animals to--don't get me started. If it helps you feel any better, here's a personal pfft to you.

I'll never lose my pfft Teri. I might delay it. I might postpone it. But I have not lost it. Have a pffty weekend. :)

Sep 22, 2006, 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger Shell said...

Oh, you bitch. You made me cry.


Sep 23, 2006, 9:33:00 PM  
Blogger Zed said...

Thank you. :)

Sep 23, 2006, 9:39:00 PM  
Blogger Shelli said...

That is much more patience than I would have had. Than most people would have had. But you were rewarded for it, weren't you.

Sep 26, 2006, 6:39:00 PM  
Blogger Zed said...

Hi Shelli,
There's always a reward for patience, it's just that it's so difficult to execute. 99% of the time I have so-so patience, but for certain situations I'm a real trooper--and this was one of them. :)

Sep 27, 2006, 12:00:00 AM  

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