I was almost six months pregnant when my birthday rolled around in June. The weight of it all was starting to really pack on (no pun intended), as well as the stress. I was constantly feeling overwhelmed, and didn't understand this new direction in our lives. I knew nothing about babies. I had never held or changed a baby. I wanted to finish school and be more solidified in my cinematography before any of our children came along. The unknown was terrifying.
And for whatever reason... I desperately wanted a cat. Somehow I knew that a cat would make everything better.
For my birthday, I was wishing and hoping with everything I had that Taylor would talk to the landlord (who was also his boss) that we could have a cat in our no-pets-allowed apartment. I even prayed that by some miracle we could have a cat. You guys, I prayed about this. I really, really wanted this to happen. (Note: this doesn't usually happen... pregnancy hormones had a little something to do with it:) )
My birthday was awesome, albeit there was no new little friend to our home. At the end of the day, I laid down for bed, and accepted it for what it was. Later that night, I woke up to Taylor whispering my name. I rolled over to look at him, only to realize he was at the window, peering through the blinds. Puzzled, I crept out of bed and joined him at his side. Through the window, I saw three little dark shapes bumbling after a stray cat that lived on our gutter street. Kittens.
To have even seen kittens on the night of my birthday meant a lot to me. Honestly, I do think that was a little gift from Heaven.
Fastforwarding a little bit... we eventually kidnapped the kittens. Twice. Taylor had found their hiding place in a hole in the ground. On a particularly stormy night, I convinced him to help me bring them inside. They were soaked when we found them. There wasn't much fuss or resistance when we picked them up. Scared, but mostly happy to be warm back inside our apartment. Mama Cat found them and hated me ever since then.
The second time we kidnapped them, we intended to keep them. Straightaway, we realized that the little guys would become as wild and feral as their parents if they weren't given a home. It was much harder the second time. Mama Cat had hid them again, and was none too pleased when we found their next hiding place in a wood pile. When we did find them, we found the gray kitten hissing and fluffed up against a giant stray cat that was steadily creeping in on the little ones. As soon as we entered the scene, all animals scattered. Mama Cat eventually came to check on her kittens, and seem surprised that I was there again. I only had leftovers from a beef casserole that I was able to distract her with as Taylor moved each piece of wood. The kittens were completely different. Now they were hissing and swiping at us. It probably took over an hour and half to catch them and bring them home.
Now living with the stray kittens was a completely different story. They were terrified of us. They stood tall but shook with fear. They were so afraid to move, that they would fall asleep standing up. We gave them as much space as we could. Our goal was to love them and teach them that they could trust us.
Eventually that did happen. But it was hard. I just wanted to hold them and love them all day. I couldn't yet, though. They had to learn to trust me first. In the beginning, they wouldn't even play with their toys if I was in the room. In fact, they would swipe at me if I got too close to them. As time passed, they would play with me, or rather, they would try to shred my maxi skirt to pieces as I walked around. We took them out to the park and let little kids hold them. I watched those kids like hawks to make sure they didn't squeeze the kitties too much.
(As for the landlord, I called him a few days after we brought them in. He said it was fine for us to raise them until we could take them to the shelter. Hallelujah!)
The kittens' personalities changed so much with the TLC they received in our home. Our feistiest one, the calico cat named Calika, become the most snuggly. She became Taylor's cat. We named the the big gray poofball Bear. She was my favorite because of her protectiveness over her siblings. The black cat, Jet, had the hardest time adjusting, but bounced in between which human he liked best.
|Calika and Taylor|
And their new owners just adored them. Which helped us feel better from losing them.
I think about them often when big and new changes come our way. I think about how oftentimes, we are suspicious and keep ourselves locked up from the world, even when good things come around. Sometimes we swipe at the good people. Some days I feel like one of those kittens, trying to stand tall and brave, but visibly shaking from fear.
What I learned most from this experience is that love is a literal thing that can open hearts laced with barbed wire. I would go as far to say that humans aren't harder than cats. Most humans, anyway. All creatures need to feel warm, safe, and loved.
Lately that's what I've been really trying to work on. Not to force change, but to just love. Which is stinkin' hard most days. But it's possible. I know from experience.