Angie (given name Angelica, aka fartbag, goopy, bb, bb-A, Ange, Anhellica, cutie, gremlin) has been in my life for 6 months today! i can’t believe it. the past six months have been full of love and doubt and puke and a whole bunch of learning. when i adopted Angie i knew i had a lot of love to give and was committed to improving her quality of life. having a heart beat to come home to has been wonderful, (plus sharing life with a cat ups my spinster status) but i had no idea that loving and caring for Angie would be an act where i also would learn to love myself a little better, too.
if you know me and therefore, probably Angie, then you probably know she had a tumultuous start to her life. she came from a house where she lived with 66 other cats (you can read more about it and watch a video here but please know it is a hard on the heart) for the first part of her life and when we found each other she was in rough shape. her hair was all shaved off due to fleas and ear mites, she was underweight and malnourished, she had an ear and eye infection, she came to the spca missing some teeth and then had to have some more removed later. she has allergies and chronic kitty cough. she did not know how to be held, she did not know how to trust. she did not know how to accept care and love.
she came home with me and i tried my best to give her space and not to overwhelm her while also letting her know i was interested in helping her out and wasn’t going anywhere. she spent a lot of her time camped out underneath my dresser, in my dresser and any other cramped warm space she could figure out. giving her her meds was hard. sometimes my brother would come help me and coax her out of hiding to have her meds and play for a bit. she was skittish and jumpy and only wanted to be touched on her terms which happened rarely. eating was another endeavour. no matter how much i broke up her meals and gave her food consistently she ate with the kind of fervour one only has when you don’t know when your next meal is coming.
Angie’s way of coping as well the time it has taken her to navigate her new home was and still is something that causes me doubt sometimes. as i look back at a message thread i had (and still have) going with two cat mom friends i had so much doubt in Angie and also myself. i thought she was always going to be a reserved, skittish, kitty. i thought we were going to be two separate entities living together but not directly interacting with each other. i thought i would be cleaning up cat puke forever. i thought Angie’s trauma had gotten the best of her. i thought no matter how hard i tried, my own trauma had got the best of me and i was not fit to care for this tiny creature.
time, patience, space, love and care are wonderful things. slowly but surely Angie came around. there was a moment where i stuck my hand out and she let me pet her and i thought to myself, we’re gonna be alright.
Angie reminds me all the got damn time that everybody is deserving of time and space and figuring things out on their own terms. there is no end point in the process of recovery/healing/trying to live well— whatever you want to call it. sometimes, she still thinks she’s never gonna eat again, eats her food too fast and gets sick. other times, she’s in mangey kitten mode and i watch her crawl out from under my dresser or a drawer (i swear ta god some day she’s gonna get stuck) even though she is now more than double the weight she was when she came home with me. she acts accordingly based on super valid experiences but i don’t see these as regressive acts. they make sense for her. just like the way i navigate the world makes sense for me and we both don’t need to be apologetic about it. they both don’t make us any less deserving of being known, taking up space, loved and not given up on.
the learning and lessons Angie brings me by virtue of her just being are things i already *know* but have been important for me to be reminded of and also live daily. and, yup. she is just a cat and maybe this is a little much and i’m reading too far into this having a pet thing. but. it works for me and it’s working for her. my cat mom pride is strong and glows when people come to visit and she is curious and wants to put herself out there and be known by a friend or pal of mine. and that seems like a good thing to me, regardless of how we got here.