Last summer my son and his cat came to stay for a time. At the end of two weeks I stood in the living room looking at this cat beast and told myself she had to go. I noticed that I was afraid and anxious around her. She acted tough and responded like a feral cat. Her tail was stiff and unyielding if you brushed into it and she immediately took up living space. She was not friendly or loving. She scratched people, furniture and rugs.
Another voice spoke up suggesting I put my training to good use and do what I would do for my clients and students followed by a question, “What if I accepted and empathized with her, and loved her just as she was?” So I told myself, “okay, what if I begin to meet her needs?” So I did. I began to give her my focus of attention. I spent time with her when she started to scratch at the couch. If she went to her food dish, I gave her food. If she wanted to go outside, I took her out. I began to take her for walks and play with her. I didn’t let her overnight alone as she would become crazy by herself in the dark. She became one of my priorities in my daily schedule and a lifestyle consideration.
As her basic needs were met and she started getting a lot more attention she began to thrive. After about two weeks she would come and lay on the back of the couch and stare directly into my eyes. I wondered if she was checking in to sense if she was safe enough with me to left her guard down. Soon she began to settle and start behaving more friendly and was calmer. Over time she stopped behaving wild. Some qualities of her wildness reappears if her needs and schedule aren’t kept.
Her personality has completely shifted and new wonderful characteristics are emerging daily. I am in awe of her and now understand how people can enjoy and love cats. I didn’t know I could enjoy them as well. This one has opened my heart wide open! With her in my life these past months I have noticed my ease to show my loving nature is growing and that my need to be protective is diminishing. She has brought these two qualities to my attention for which I am grateful!
What I have learned from this little one is that the environment and relationships that we have with other people can be translated to our pets. Our pets respond to the same value needs as we do even without spoken words! That communication is the quality of our responsive behavior more than our spoken words.