Tuesday, June 19, 2012


"I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul." — Jean Cocteau, French poet, novelist, playwright, artist and filmmaker

I'M UPSTAIRS WITH Anaya, and after feeding her her nightly treat of an 1/8 of a can of Fancy Feast, talking to her and petting her, I'm hanging out on a big doggy bed we bought — for me, actually, to provide a cushion on the hard pine floor.

She has a bowl of dry crunchies and fresh water available to her at all times, but she, like our other three, loves her twice-a-day treat.

We have our routine, she and I. I come upstairs with enough sound that she knows I'm approaching. She's always on the window shelf we put in for her. 

I enter the room, sit on a hard chair about five feet from her and talk to her. Then I move to the big cushion on the floor that's only two feet from her. I continue to talk to her in a soothing voice. We're now eye-level with one another. 

I put out my hand and let her sniff my fingers. I put her treat plate on the window shelf, but I hold onto it as an aid to the process of acclimating her to my hands. Then I stroke her head and shoulders as I continue making soothing sounds, and she moves to the plate and eats from it while I hold it. 

I take the plate down when she's done and scrape up any little leftover bits on my fingers, and offer it to her. She eats the bits off my fingers. Then I pet her and pet her and pet her, and I'm blessed once again with purring. Then I hang out on the floor cushion and read a magazine or the news online or, in this case, tonight I'm writing to you.

The purring is music to me. There was about a month's absence of it from when she first purred in late May until it resumed only recently. We had to remove her favorite, favorite piece of furniture from the room in order to make her more accessible. It was a very tall bookcase, and the top of it was her safe place, but we'd reached a plateau. I couldn't keep standing on a chair for 15 minutes or half and hour at a crack. I needed to be able to spend much more time with her than that, and she wasn't about to get down off the bookcase while I was there. 

Anaya was not happy with us for making the change, and she regressed for awhile to hiding and hissing. She's better than ever now, though. She stretches out on her side on her window shelf after her treat and lets me pet her. It's a big deal because that's a much more vulnerable position than a crouch or a regular sitting position — and tonight for the first time, I got actual kneading! She even goes entirely to sleep, stretched out two feet from my head.

I let in each of the other kids one at a time last night. Shiva, who's our sporty, climby girl, wants to get up on the shelf with her, or better yet, climb up the big fancy cat tree we got Anaya. We were hoping that the cat tree with it's three levels of perches and scratching posts and so on would compensate for the missing book case, but so far I'm not sure Anaya has even been on it.

Shiva, on the other hand, wants to climb the tree in the worst way. Such familiarity and climbing about inches away from her by another cat is much too alarming for Anaya at this stage, and Shye, I discovered, would be positively mean to Anaya if I'd let her be. Shye was trying to attack her, so Shye is not allowed in. 

Our big goofy, lovable boy is harmless, though. He wants to get to know her and stretches up for a sniff, but Anaya hisses and swats, so he backs down and away. Rebuffed, he just wants to go around the room and sniff everything and love up all over me to reassure himself. I encourage that so that Anaya can see that it's safe to get down on the floor and walk around, over me and on top of me.

My next goal is to see if I can get Anaya to play. If I can get her to play with a string or some other toy, I think I'll have some chance of getting her down off her shelf with me.

There's so much to tell of the Anaya story, all fraught with drama. I'll try to pick up the threads from where I stopped. 

Anaya was small and thin and very feral when we live-trapped her. We didn't know whether she was male or female, and she was much too wild for us to endeavor to find out. 

All doubt was erased when I came home on a Monday night after work not many weeks after we'd caught her. I went upstairs to check on her and heard the tiniest, tiniest squeaks. I turned on the light to discover four very, very small new-born kittens. One was already dead, but three were still alive. 

It was a shock! Not only did she not look old enough to reproduce, she was so skinny!! There was hardly anything to her and certainly no sign of pregnancy.

Paul was already at Big Band, so I couldn't get help from him. I immediately called someone who volunteers regularly at an animal shelter. She said I should just leave the kittens, and instinct would drive Anaya to take care of her babies. That's not exactly how it turned out, however. And that's as far as I can get for now.

A big PS: I came downstairs when I was finished writing this, and turned right around and went back upstairs to fill Anaya's dry crunchies bowl. The light going off is her signal that I'm gone for the night, but I left it on because I knew I was coming back up immediately. Anaya had gotten down off her window shelf — which she never does until I turn off the light. I circled around her as far away as the room would allow to get to her bowl, and she remained on the floor. And not only that: she was actually in a regular upright sitting position, not a crouch. Another victory for love and happiness. My Boy Boy was evidently a good teacher tonight. Pictures soon, I promise.

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