As I sit here, reflecting on the past several months, I am amazed at the goodness of God. Just amazed.
First, I will explain for any who do not know about our cat. Samantha, aka: Baby was adopted from our local humane society when she was about 7 months old. She was a long, sleek, all-black, short-hair cat with a Siamese face and features. Definitely with Siamese temperament. She had pure yellow eyes. Striking.
I had a sense, a feeling in my gut that I should not bring this cat home. I can’t explain it. Nothing was wrong with her. Just a gut feeling. But then, my honey held her and she licked his face. They both looked at me and he said, she kissed me! I shook my head and told him of my feeling. I told him that every time I ignore or neglect these feelings I regret it.
She stuck her little pink tongue out at me. Literally! Not the “stupid” cat tongue thing where they forget to pull it in. Then she turned and licked his face several more times, like she was timid and afraid to die. That was it. We owned a cat. She then gave me that look that said she was number one woman and stuck her tongue out at me again!
First the fees, then the vet fees, then the “fix-what-ain’t-broken mandatory surgery, then the shots, the treatments for eye and ear stuff. And let’s not forget the apartment pet deposit. sigh. The special cat carrier, the special bowls that were weighted just right for her. The special litter pan with the lid, for her royal hiney’s privacy, and the list goes on.
Oh, and they were sorry she was going to people with no children because she was so good with children! They didn’t think we were right for her.
When we brought her home, Gene had her on his lap out on the patio for bonding time while he smoked, and I told him he needed to think of a name for her. He said she had a name. I said, “I am not going to open the door and call out for Oprah!” Sorry. Not happening.
He chose the name Samantha. Of course I looked at this black cat remembered the “bewitched” character from my childhood TV memories. I thought, “this cannot be good”.
He began to converse with her, calling her Baby, and himself daddy, and I was, of course “mean mummy”. I told him, I will not be called mommy or mummy to a cat, and you are not her daddy. uh-huh. right. I held my ground for one whole day. After so much Baby and “tell mummy” conversation had gone on in this short space of time, I found myself saying, “go back and tell daddy…” arrrgh! And that was it. sigh
Then on to the real adventure.
It turns out that after the destruction of all our new furnishings ($800 mattress set, sofa and matching recliner, etc), our drapes and much clothing, not to mention the perpetually slashed, bruised and bleeding skin, I came to a decision and wasn’t budging. (Mind you, this decision was after a full year of having the little darling.) She was to have those front claws out or move to another family with children to eat…I mean… to love.
The vet didn’t want to take claws out at the age of 1 and a half, but because it was that or she’d be given up he agreed. We almost lost her over that surgery. It took her over a month to come out of her deep depression. And, as hard as her tantrums and destructive attacks could be, it seemed as if we had broken her spirit, which I really couldn’t bear at all. That is, until she recovered.
Then, one day she was back to her original self. The behavior continued, with her sharpening her claw-sheathes on the serrated knob that turns off the toilet water, and using them on us. Too funny. And, she sharpened her teeth to be like new-kitty teeth. Not so funny.
Anyway, round we went for years. In the midst of this, and very quickly actually, we learned that they (kitty prison guards) had been lied to. This little girl h-a-t-e-s children. No exageration. She will hiss, growl, spit, fluff herself, swat at and finally attack if they do not leave her alone. Did I already mention that when she bites, she strikes like a snake?
So, no children allowed in this house. (Upstairs apartment so she is indoors all the time, which she had been before we got her.) Did I mention that I love kids, and they love Gene tremendously? Life-change for us, and not one I was alright with.
Oh, the tantrums!
Seriously. I have been for years a behavioral instructor while working with developmentally disabled adults with behavioral problems. I tried everything on this cat. I read all the cat books that Costco and Barnes and Noble would stock. I took everyone-with-a-cat’s advice and tried it. Desperately trying to deal with her tantrums. Honestly, I thought she was completely possessed. And so did pretty much everyone who met her during those years.
There was one time when she went into a tantrum-to-beat-all-tantrums (before the de-clawing). I have never seen anything like it. Ever! After several hours (they usually lasted about 2 hours), she was literally insane and not even slowing down.
I was done. So very done and was sitting on the couch in a catatonic- like state, staring at the wall in front of me, trying to not drool and to keep breathing. (Her trigger was that I took a curtain down that needed replacing, and it had been perfectly shredded by her, thank you!)
(Insert here: I had taken a class one evening on making rafia grass floral arrangements. They were quite popular then. And since I didn’t realize I was seriously allergic to the products I used, I hung the thing right where it would greet me as I walked in the door. It was lovely. Braided rafia grass, with peat moss on it and silk flowers decorating it on the top and bottom, with a french blue paper bow and tails and wonderfully fragrant. Sweet!)
Now, back to the tantrum…
… about 3 to 3 and a half hours into this tantrum, our little darling went into a full run, leapt into the rafia “thing” hanging in the entry way and began to swing on it. I am not kidding here, people. She swung the thing out toward the living room while it hung precariously on it’s lone hook at the top. She was facing me across the room and screamed! Yes, she did. Mouth open and all. Then it swung back to the other side of it’s original location, and she bounced off that wall and came back this way again! She swung out to face me and screamed again! Meoooowwww!!!!! Now, this happened repeatedly while I sat on the couch and just stared at her, slack-jawed, in shock. I realized my lack of reaction was amping her up, but I just couldn’t react. More destruction followed of course, and I shed even more blood than I had earlier.
Have I told you about her physical blows? She would hit you, strike you with her front paws and they would leave large, very dark and sore bruises on you. It is one of the reasons I insisted the claws come out of the front. She would puncture me with those claws on a hard strike and I ended up at the doctor for treatment a few times. Even with them out, the bruising would be deep, dark and painful.
Poor little darling! Daddy couldn’t bear to let her go. No way! Who on earth would take her and keep her? He knew her life was at stake if she left us. I knew ours was if we kept her. But, alas. My weakness for my honey prevailed.
Which leads to the next thing…I had long ago become woman number two in this man’s life…I think at the kitty-jail where we picked her up before we left with her. We actually had one of our first marital disputes over this! Way too funny now. Not so funny then.
Another dispute, a huge one actually came up many years later when we found out that my second most severe allergy tested to be cats!
Umm…you notice that we kept her until today, right? After that last fight, I had to come to terms with our situation. If I decided to keep her, I would not mention anything to my husband about it again. If not, I knew it would break him (and possibly us). Silly as it seems, I came to a realization that day that this was truth. Not rational, but true. He had some loves-lost in his life. Family ones. And he put all of his affection in those days into this cat. Like a transfer in his time of brokenness, from them to her. In the name of love for him and our covenant vows together, I set myself to embrace our owning of this kitty.
Our baby was re-named many times over by so many other people. One of my favorite of her names has to be the one Maribel dubbed her with, “Cujo Kitty”.
And a safe estimate of how many people have anointed her with oil, holy water, laid hands on her and prayed for deliverance over her, as well as blessing and all that goes with it…would have to be about 40. Or perhaps 100 people, including me. Who knows anymore? And, amazingly after all of this, she is STILL a cat!
I am happy to report that she went from being a cat who attacked with any sound of worship music or prayers uttered, to being a cat who trotted behind me in worship-dance and who pressed into my hands while I prayed. She would press her face or head right under my hand and press herself up to me in an embrace and stay there through the prayers. When I prayed for someone and wept, she would come and lick my face. sigh of relief here. There was fruit to the love-sacrifice after all. Yes, there was.
Honestly, I think the main lesson learned here has to be that I have no control over anything or anyone, and I am not supposed to. I had to learn how to not take control, to stop trying to make something happen that wasn’t going to happen, and just pray and make peace in our home. Not keep peace, make peace. There is a difference.
Trying to make someone or something behave as you want them to does not make for genuine peace, anyway.
I have learned this on the job, as well as in life with nephews and other children. Of course, boundaries and respect are good. Not the same as control. This cat brought out more of the need-to-control in me than any child, or any person I served (or co-worker) at work ever has.
So, I confess to you that most lessons learned in this decade and a half relationship were mine.
I know this sounds too wild to be true, and downright crazy of us, but anyone who really knows us will tell you this story is true.
And much too long for one blog. More to follow…