Gratitude – for Friday being the perfect culmination of hundreds of hours of work put in by a small group of women determined to socialize a reluctant feral cat.
For discovering his reluctance was due to dental pain and wonky blood sugar.
For sticking to the goal in spite of hisses and punches and blood dripping from the odd finger.
For Rocky 1, and Rocky 2 (the names we gave the elbow-length wildlife gloves) helping us get past a hurdle or two,
For the distraction of food giving us the opportunity to touch him without getting punched.
For the feather sticks that became the “Key to Calvin,” and the standard first approach tool.
For heart pounding moments — of which there were oh so many! Like the first time I successfully captured him in a blanket, or when I was sure he was about to punch me and instead leaned into my hand to enjoy the rub or scratch, or reaching out to touch him when he was out of his lair.
For the first time he stayed in my lap, even when I uncovered his head and he was free to go.
For the special first moments when he was touching me or accepting my touch and all I could do was say, “I hope someone can get a screen shot of this for me.” And sure enough, several people would oblige. I am grateful those special moments were captured. (To all who contributed, thank you!)
For being able to finally get him to come out of his lair to play.
For the day I was so excited by an early breakthrough moment, I forgot to take off my scrub booties and wore them home inside my shoes!
For seeing him on camera at night, romping and playing like a kitten.
The weeks and weeks of bunny suits, booties, gloves, and head covers were all worth it. The hours and hours of laundry because everything had to go through the cycle twice are but a distant memory.
Months of staying determined we would get him to exactly where he is today, in a loving home, with people who understand the special needs of a formerly ferocious feral, have paid off.
When I slipped a blanket over him and gently carried him to the travel carrier, I gave him one last hug, and said, “I’m going to open the blanket up, and I want you to go in on your own.” I let the blanket open, and he calmly walked in, turned around and laid down, snuggled into his favorite little bed. He was calm, ready to get on with his life.
I’ve chatted with his new mom several times since he got home, and he’s doing very well. He left the carrier within a few hours, and has staked out a favorite spot in his safe room. He’s taking all the newness in stride, and he’s blessed to have a human who “gets” it. Knows to give him space, but also understands he needs to feel human touch in order to stay connected.
For those who don’t know Calvin’s story, here’s a brief summary.
First of all, he survived being born in the wild.
He beat the odds and didn’t succumb to parasites, to disease, or predators. But by the age of three, his teeth began to go bad, and he was living with a horrible eye injury. Things were going downhill fast.
Then the best day of his life happened. He finally stepped into the trap set just for him, by Tinykittens.com, and he was whisked away from his forest colony to Mountain View Veterinary Hospital. There, the eyeball which had by now ruptured, was removed, and he was neutered, during the Tiny Kittens October Fixathon (all services donated to spay and neuter homeless cats and thereby humanely control the community cat population).
Calvin still needed extensive dental surgery before he’d be fit to release back into his colony, but that had to wait because he tested positive for ringworm. Once that was cleared up and the dental done, he was ready… but showing other symptoms, and was diagnosed with diabetes.
Returning to the wild would be a death sentence, so returning wasn’t an option. He was started on insulin therapy, and socialization was his only hope. So we set to work, and it took six months.
We celebrated even the tiniest of milestones, and cheered each other on. Each with our own style, each with our own level of bravery, we taught Calvin about love and trust. Some of us only did socialization, while others took on the massive task of taking daily blood samples and giving insulin injections, all before he’d decided humans weren’t the enemy!
It’s amazing to look back at where he was, heck, who he was, in October, and then see who he is now.
He is truly blessed, because not only did we all believe in him, but someone else believes in him now, has adopted Calvin, and taken him home, because as she said, he’s family.
Thank you, Calvin, I’m grateful for all you’ve taught me, as well as the laughter, and the great group of strong women you brought into my life.
To learn more about Calvin and other amazing cat rescues, go to TinyKittens.com.