The Blessing of Patience. Now, Please!   Leave a comment

WhispersNov94 by Lady Birchwood
WhispersNov94, a photo by Lady Birchwood on Flickr.

19 springs ago, two feral kittens showed up on our front porch in South Minneapolis. I had been feeding their feral mother that winter, and she gave birth under a neighbor’s porch. She brought her two kittens (they may have been the only kittens of a small litter or the only two survivors) to the food pan on the porch when they were old enough to follow her around. I believe that it was Mother’s Day weekend when I saw these kittens on the porch for the first time. I figured they were between five and six weeks old.

They were adorable but terrified of human contact, as was their mom. We tried to catch the kittens, which was nothing more than a comical and futile effort on our part. I quickly realized that we were doing nothing more than further terrifying these small creatures and that was gaining no one anything.

I completely changed my approach, using food to do the talking. At first, I would deliver the food and go back inside to let them eat in peace. Then I delivered the food and went back inside but stood at the screen door so that they could see me. Then I made my delivery and stood on the porch by the door. Eventually, I was able to put the food out and sit on the steps four or five feet away while the kittens ate. At no time could I approach them or they would startle and run. This daily process went on for several months. Eventually, they knew that they didn’t need to fear me, but I was allowed to sit with them and nothing more.

As August nights began to cool, I knew that I had to make a move to bring these kittens into the house and out of the approaching fall and winter months. One evening, I put their food pan in the foyer, held the screen door open, and the calico and her white-and-black sibling followed the food into the house. We did that for a few nights, and then supper indoors turned into spending the night. By Labor Day, they were our adopted kittens.

It took months for them to become comfortable living around the daily lives of humans. In Katie’s case, it took years before she was at peace with the touch of a human hand. She was never trusting enough to be picked up and held, although she was my bed partner for many years and didn’t like me out of her sight.

If I had tossed in the towel at two weeks or a month and said, “This ain’t workin'” and walked away from these two alley kittens, these two “street urchins,” they never would have joined our lives. They never would have been part of the family. We would have missed out on almost 17 wonderful years with Katie and 19 years with Bubba. I can’t even bear to think about what we would have missed if I hadn’t had that patience to see where our road would lead.

I can’t imagine what life would have been like without the love we shared for close to two decades.

It was a journey begun because two little lives were worth the effort. The price of their adoption was paid with love and patience.

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Posted September 2, 2013 by StPaulieGrrl in cats

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