Near the end of last year, my son’s neighbor heard her dogs barking, and when she tried to bring them in, she caught them chasing an orange kitten about three to four months old. She managed to get the traumatized kitten onto her screened porch and kept it there about six weeks with little human contact. At least she fed the kitten and kept the dogs away.
My son and his wife heard the story, so they adopted the kitten. When they brought her home, she scrambled for a hiding place under the spare room bed and stayed there another two weeks. They named her Nessie, after the Loch Ness monster that stays hidden.
When Nessie finally started venturing out, my son’s other cat pounced on her, traumatizing her further. It wasn’t a good situation for the kitten, so they talked about the best solution. I thought about taking her, but I had doubts.
I’ve had pets most of my life, but after my divorce a few years ago and my move to CA, I hadn’t thought seriously about getting another one. I didn’t even have a plant – I was too busy trying to adjust to a new life in a new state, and it was all I could do to take care of me.
But I kept thinking about this little kitten. My previous dog and cat had been rescue animals, and both had enriched my life.
Would I have the energy to devote to a traumatized kitten? Did I even want to? After all, I now had freedoms I hadn’t had in years. I could come and go as I pleased, no matter the time, and I didn’t have to answer to anyone. Did I really want to curb this freedom by taking care of a pet?
I gave it serious thought and realized yes, I came and went as I pleased, but seldom stayed long. Instead, I’ve devoted most of my energies into building my writing career. And, I finally admitted I was lonely.
So, I took the kitten. My son brought her over with enough supplies to last for months. As soon as he let Nessie out of the carrier, she dashed for the back of my sofa – and stayed three days. She didn’t eat, visit the litter box, nothing. My son visited and finally coaxed her out for short times with treats. It took several days for Nessie to emerge long enough to realize she was the only pet in the house, and she stayed out for longer periods of time. Soon she freely roamed the house, but would hide if anyone entered my home. Even my son, who had tried to nurture her.
I poured all my energies and love into this kitten. I think I identified with her – we were both lost souls. Soon, she and I became inseparable, and now she follows me from room to room. But she’d still hide if anyone else entered my home.
I tried to get her into the carrier for a vet’s visit, and she freaked out, digging in her claws to escape my arms. And worse, again she hid from me. I had to cancel the appointment.
Then, the inevitable occurred: she went into heat. Several times. I wanted to get her to the vet, but I knew the only way was to manhandle her into the carrier, and if that wasn’t traumatic enough – for her and for me – the stay at the vet would be torture for her. Would she ever trust me again?
Going into heat was difficult for her and for me, so I made another appointment. And worried.
A friend gave me a couple of cat-calming wipes to use on the carrier, so on the day of reckoning, I took the carrier into the bathroom, wiped it down, and shut her in until my son arrived. He had volunteered – as they do in the Army – because he had better luck handling her when she’s stressed. He got her into the carrier with ease. He’s naturally very good at handling cats, just seems to understand them. I thought I was too, had done so in the past. But with Nessie? I was a nervous mom. Perhaps because she was already traumatized, perhaps because I was older.
We got Nessie to the vet’s, and I hated leaving her. I could imagine her feeling abandoned again, betrayed by the one person she’d begun to feel she could trust. I nearly lost my breakfast. But surgery went well, and we picked her up. She was groggy and slept most of that day, which was fine with me. My son, having gone through this surgery twice in the past year with his own cats, went to his own home, assuring me Nessie would be fine, and I could call if needed. The rest of that day and the next, I kept watching Nessie and checking her incision. I barely slept.
This morning marks the 48 hour recovery time, and Nessie’s nearly back to her old self. She even jumped up onto her high perch on her cat condo.
And yes, she lets me pet her, and she’s not hiding. Hooray! The patient is doing well, better than I expected, so for the first time in over a week, I can relax. I’m so glad I didn’t back out and cancel the appointment.
Now, thanks to my son and a good vet, the nervous mom is now a happy mom. And Nessie? Take a look: