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Head Bumps of Courage
Quietly regarding me with soulful eyes, Guinevere lays on a lounge cushion in the middle of our bedroom floor. This kitty has been with us now for over three months. I know better than to approach her, for she has me well-trained. (I have the routine down pat now). As I start to make the bed, Guinevere raises up slowly on shaky limbs. In her peculiar crab-like hopping fashion she begins to follow me. If I turn in her direction, she will slide under the bed, showing me only her rear legs and tail.
At first, I thought I startled her, but the more time I spend with her, the greater our understanding grows. Though walking is a struggle for this seventeen-year old kitty, she valiantly keeps up the pursuit; somehow sensing that inactivity could prove to be risky, therefore, action is prudent. Tentatively exercising tired, damaged limbs, my feline stalker follows me for the ultimate goal; head bumps on my legs. Only after the head bumps are delivered am I allowed to turn and face her.
I plump up the pillows and wait for the nudge. I brace myself. Guinevere shows little restraint for her head bumps resembles the butt of a Billy-goat. She makes contact and I slowly sink to the floor and sit Indian-style. Guinevere rests her head on my knee then lurches over inviting a belly rub. I lean over, scooping up her back-end while cradling her damaged shoulders I place her in my lap. The activity tires her. She closes her eyes and sleeps. I pet her gently recalling the day I met this incredible blue-eyed white kitty.
She was crouched low in the bottom of a cage at the local no-kill shelter. Other cats were rubbing up against their cages, crying out for attention, batting at me as I passed, but this white cat “Peaches” just laid there. “Unadoptable” a volunteer called out as I crouched near the kitty’s cage.
“Why is that?” I asked and was told that “Peaches” overturns litter pans, food bowls and water bowls. She always needs a bath, pees and poops on the carpet and she couldn’t walk straight. I found out that early on, “Peaches” had been the catalyst for her owner’s rage, until a neighbor no longer could stand the sounds of the cat in distress in the garage and called animal control. That’s how she arrived at the shelter. I looked at this beauty and decided not to ignore the message emanating from her eyes- “Get me out of here.” Ten minutes later, “Guinevere” was on her way to a new life.
Watching Guinevere try to eat and drink in those first few hours and attempt to use the litter pan I understood why she had been returned multiple times to the shelter. With her damaged limbs and her weight issue, straining to get over the lip of the litter pans, she would drag litter all over the room. Trying out different sized boxes resulted in the same situation. Unable to stand for any length of time, she would tip over the food and spill the water in her endeavor to eat and drink. Even the cat bed on the floor became an obstacle. She had trouble navigating over the soft sides.
A quick trip to Home Depot on my part stopped her struggles. Her new litter pans became water heater drain pans, the holes plugged with duct tape. Sweeping loose litter off the floor daily became part of my daily routine; a small price to pay for this cat to find comfort. Her cat bed was replaced by a soft patio lounge cushion. Simply by putting her weight on the cushion, she would squish it down and find a napping spot. Food and water bowls were replaced with paint roller trays.
She found she could easily lie down and eat and drink in comfort. My vet diagnosed her with free-floating front shoulders (both had been broken and healed) and a broken and healed pelvis. To add insult to injury, Guinevere’s body was peppered with BB pellets. My acupuncturist agreed to put Guinevere on the VIP List- Very Important Pet. Guinevere started treatments (three times a week for 2 months). Both my vet and the acupuncturist confirmed; her regeneration abilities were nothing short of amazing.
Amazing would sum her up. Her attraction to me was immediate. Perhaps sensing that we are kindred spirits overcoming what might have destroyed others. I know she cannot see my scars. My shirts and jeans effectively cover up the marks that zigzag over my stomach. A freeway of harsh reminders of a life long ago, when a naïve girl ran off with a man she was certain would love her forever. But just as Guinevere also discovered; forevers are for fairy tales and sometimes fairy tales turn into nightmares.
As I watch Guinevere lying in my lap, limbs twitching, her lovely mouth turned into a grimace. I wonder if she is chasing her personal demons. I recall what fear tastes like, how love can quickly turn ugly when people, afraid of getting involved simply turn around and walk away. She has crab-hopped into my life for a reason. To be my gentle teacher, a spiritual guide. She inspires me daily to look beyond the surface, ignore the outer dressing, to weigh the heart and value the soul. The color white is said to symbolize; stability, power and trustworthiness; the sum total of my Guinevere.
Mary Anne Miller is a freelance writer, website content provider and member of The Cat Writers’ Association. Her expertise lies in feral cat socialization, bottle babies and animal abuse issues.