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Molly

Molly came into our life as everything a cat shouldn’t, she was a ‘replacement’ kitty, only she wasn’t. Our beloved Courtney had died after 18 wonderful entertaining laughter and horror filled years (even the horror was funny in hindsight), when Courtney was gone we had Cali who had never had much personality but we loved her, she was just … there. Sometimes Cali would ask for petting and love and sometimes she would talk to us but mostly the closest she came to affection was sleeping on the foot of one of the girls’ beds or not hiding from us when we were in the room. Cali was just a sad little kitty who we decided to love as much as she’d let us and that turned out to be not a lot. When Courtney died, I thought my heart had completely crumbled and that I never wanted another cat in my life, remember Cali was still there somewhere, hiding. 😉 I kept coming home and feeling the “lack” of something or someone. Enter Molly.

 

I went to the County Shelter determined to get an adult cat. The folks there looked at me like they knew things that I didn’t and directed me to the cat holding room. As I entered, I saw in the lobby a big cat cage full of kittens, all dark gray tabbies like Courtney, except for one, she was tabby in places but spotted with big splashes of white. I dismissed her, I actually said out loud “NO! I don’t want a kitten, I want some poor abandoned kitty who will be grateful, not climb my curtains.” I walked past her. Cage by cage I stopped and talked to the kitties there, they were battle worn, ears torn, noses scarred, hearts probably far past being able to trust much less love me. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking about Cali, and what kind of cat we could realistically bring into her home and life. I couldn’t find a single prospect though my heart wanted them all, even the ones who hissed and spit at me from fear. I thought I might never forget them and honestly, I haven’t ever.  To clear my mind, I walked through the dog enclosure, I was more familiar with this path than the cats because I did Samoyed Rescue and sometimes was asked to go confirm that a dog had at least crossed paths with a Sam.   I had two beautiful Samoyeds at home at this time and there just wasn’t space for another dog, but I took a minute with each pup and spoke soft words of love and encouragement and prayed for them to find a forever home. If you know me, you know that by this point I was emotionally spent. I went back to the lobby and the lady behind the desk said knowingly “You couldn’t find anything?” I shook my head and felt slightly ashamed that I couldn’t give anyone a home.  The woman gestured to the cage of kittens even as I was shaking my head no, I looked again. All the tabbies were rolling around playing, even romping in the litter box but the little one, the white splashed one, sat on a shelf watching them like she was so superior to them. I approached the cage and said softly to her “Hey.” Our eyes met and I was undone, completely irrevocably undone. “This one! I want this one!” I practically shouted it to the very disinterested employees. The original lady who had encouraged me toward kittens came around and opened the cage and I reached in and scooped her tiny body into the palm of my hand. I could feel her little tummy on my palm and felt her relax into me as if to say “I trust you.”

 

I was filling out paperwork and calling Mark who didn’t answer so he got the message “Please don’t hate me, please don’t divorce me.” After Molly and I finished the paper details, they plopped her in a little cardboard box with holes and a handle and handed her to me. Mark called me as I was getting in the car and said, “What have you done?” I responded with “Well, it is the cutest thing on the planet and looks a bit like a gremlin…the creature, not the car.”

 

In the car, with the AC running, I lifted her from the box and held her in front of me a little kitten dangling in my hands a la Simba in the Lion King, “I’m gonna love you.” I said to her as she silently stared at me. “I’m gonna love you and you are gonna love me… I need a promise from you, I need you to be with me until I’m about 58 okay? That’s reasonable right?” She squirmed and meowed for the first time. I took that as a deal, a sort of kitty handshake. I find myself stunned that we didn’t make it to that timeframe, dumb as that sounds.

 

I called my vet, I wanted her checked out before taking her home to Cali, it was three hours before he could see her so we went to Faye. Fortunately, Faye worked somewhere that I could go and hang out and bring Molly who had no name at that point, and just hang out until we could go to the vet.

 

At Dr. Deckert’s office, he looked her over and then said “Mrs. D.” how old did they tell you this kitten is? I told him they said she was six weeks. He looked at me for a bit and said, “How old do YOU think she is?” “Younger or she is a runt, much younger.” He nodded in agreement. I’d told him that she hadn’t peed or pooped since I picked her up. We both realized about the same moment that she was indeed much younger and that she hadn’t been eating or drinking since being dropped at the shelter, she didn’t know how! She had not been weaned. Dr. D got me some human baby food and we fed her off our fingers, he instructed me to go to the store and get more human baby food and water it down and feed her that for a week or so and slowly move her to kitten food. Molly could fit in my hand at that point, let that sink in, someone dumped her at a shelter before she knew how to eat and just left her there. She had been a few days without food, that explained her passivity, she was dying and no one at the shelter had a clue.

 

I took her home, the first ‘person’ she saw was Riker, it was love at first sight, she was obsessed. Riker was going blind and I feared he would hurt her, she was tiny enough that he could have swallowed her. She had no such fear, she had to be with him, had to be licking his fur and climbing on him with her sharp little baby claws, he never blinked. I tried to keep them apart when I wasn’t there to supervise but she would scale double stacked gates just to be with him. I gave up and let them have their love.  Her love for Troi came a bit later in life but it too was sweet.

 

I wanted to name her Lucy but Mark and the girls vetoed that as well as the name Millie, I REALLY wanted to call her Lucy but we settled on Molly as some kind of odd compromise.

 

Lindsay was taking riding lessons and was kicked by a horse and suffered a torn spleen, she was in the hospital for over a week and then limited to one floor of the house for the rest of the summer. We used to joke that the dogs raised Molly but it wasn’t really a joke, they did.

 

Molly wasn’t the ‘best’ cat on the planet but she stepped right up and filled Courtney’s shoes to overflowing. She didn’t have the ‘humor’ that Courtney did but oh my, she kept us on our toes. Molly had a love for eating plastic bags (so did Courtney!) and it was a challenge in life to keep them out of her reach. She also had a love of butter, no butter was safe, it could be warming on the counter or in a bowl about to be blended into a recipe and Molly would go for it. So many times in life I found bite marks on my sticks of butter! You’d think that I would have learned but it was almost a challenge to warm the butter before Mol could eat it.

 

One of the sweetest things about Molly was how she loved to groom us, as if we were her kittens. When she couldn’t get to us, she’d groom either Riker or Troi, so many times I’d see her laying in the super long fur that was Troi’s amazing fluffy tail, happily grooming it. She cleaned Riker’s face and mouth when he would tolerate it and mourned his death bitterly alongside me. I think that is when she decided that I was hers. She loved me back to life, healed my heart as he had healed me when Chamby died. Molly became my girl. I’d joke that she had radar that told her when I sat down because she would come out of nowhere and drape herself over my shoulders, butting my head, licking my face, biting my lips and ears and purring like it was the happiest thing she had ever done.

 

Molly was loving and needy, she accepted Meeko when we ‘kidnapped’ him though they never seemed bonded, she was tolerant of Tavi and Bellamy when they started venturing into the house, she put up with Princeton though she never truly liked him she would share sofa space with him as long as I was in the middle.

 

Molly was my girl. She was my Mollywog, my love, my heart. I had thought that when she and Meeko were gone I’d not have any more cats, but God has a lovely sense of humor and a little over a year ago gave me Octavia and Bellamy, they have some seriously big paw prints to fill.

 

I told Mark that I was not heartbroken but that I was sad. I fear that I lied.  No, I know I lied, because I can feel the rifts in my heart.

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Wildlings in the House

Octavia has long been coming inside to visit, sometimes for five minutes or fifteen other times for over an hour. Lately though she has started just slipping inside whenever we open the door. Last week I was on my way to run errands and I closed the door and realized that I didn’t see Octavia anywhere and she had just been standing there! I unlocked the door to be greeted by Little Miss “I Was a Wild Kitty” just hanging out in my foyer. It took a little convincing to get her to go back outside. Note to anyone I might have a date with in the near future, the cat may make me late, the struggle is real.

Bellamy is always a bit behind trying out the things Tavi does. Historically with him, it has been two to three weeks behind but this time I feared I’d traumatized him.  When the temperatures were sub zero a few weeks ago, I grabbed him and dragged him inside, it set me way back with him to the point that he wouldn’t let me pet him. He would rub his head against me but he didn’t want to take a chance on me grabbing him again.

Today, we had a huge breakthrough! I opened the door and Tavi came strolling in and I invited Bellamy who then put his head and front feet inside. He was specifically looking to see if the TV was on because it freaks him out. He stepped inside but I let the door move a little and he heard it and raced back out onto the porch. I talked to him calmly and told him he was very brave and would he like to come in again. This is crazy cat lady talk if you don’t recognize it.  He sat looking longingly inside then suddenly just bolted through the open door! I closed it and he headed towards it in a mild panic but I reassured him that he was fine and that Octavia was inside with him so he explored. I snapped a few photos while he was roaming, and got a beautiful shot of Octavia too and I’m sharing them with you here, because I know you came here for the photos!

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They ran to greet us in the driveway today, they always come running but usually meet us on the porch, it’s not okay to touch them unless they are on the porch.

Bellamy’s in the house! Look at him just chillin’ in the kitchen!

Just hanging out with Tavi and checking out the grasshopper.

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My gorgeous Octavia, practicing her “I’m a lioness and don’t you forget it” pose! I love this girl.

 

We move forward, we move back, sometimes by a leap and sometimes by a small paw. For over a week we would open the front door and Octavia would just waltz in uninvited, and with calm assurance. Sometimes she wandered around sniffing this or that and sometimes she stayed firmly in the foyer and played with her grasshopper toy. Recently though she needs a little more coaxing and the only reason I can come up with is that we spent the night away and our sweet neighbor Angel cared for Princeton that night. It appears that when we travel or in this case, go away for a night, it sets the cats back almost as if a switch flips and their earlier mistrust of humans kicks in.  Bellamy has made a tiny bit of progress, allowing himself to be coaxed into the house for treats and on two visits he actually looked around a little and sat for a few minutes in the foyer before freaking out and begging to be set free.  He wants to be inside, yearns to come in where it’s warm and there are snacks and scratches under his chin, but his self-preservation screams for him to be cautious. Winter is coming my handsome boy, winter is coming and I expect you to be lying by the fire sooner rather than later so be warned!

I’ll leave you here dear Octavia and Bellamy fan with some photos of them to warm your hearts.

 

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That’s Bellamy trying out the idea of being a house cat. He’s warming to the idea but slowly.

 

My goal as the bitterly cold weather is quickly approaching is to have the Ferals, Octavia and Bellamy, spending many long hours inside the house, perhaps laying by the fireplace. That goal isn’t being met quickly enough for me, but as a friend reminded me; a few months ago I couldn’t get within several feet of these two. These days they sometimes “knock” on the front door, meow to get my attention if that doesn’t work, and they rub around and in between my feet talking and purring. Bellamy is as he has always been, more cautious and it takes him longer to decide something is okay and can’t or won’t hurt him. I insisted on him allowing me to pet and scratch him by first touching his back in such a fleeting way that he would look around confused, wondering if I’d really touched him or not. Then we progressed to something more like a fast brush down his back until one day I decided to scratch his neck, he started to bolt then suddenly just relented and leaned into me and began purring. It sounds easy but it took literally months.

I’ve said before that for every step we take forward, we then go back about seven. Each trip we took out of town and some loving friend, family member or pet sitter looked after them, it unsettled their perception of normal and became a cause for starting all over again. It’s been frustrating and rewarding at the same time. I’d feared that trapping them and having them neutered and spayed would make them suspicious of us forever, it didn’t even seem to bother them at all, weird kitties but I’m grateful that I didn’t have to track them down and coax them back to my porch.

We had been able to coax Tavi inside several times and she very cautiously would sniff around the downstairs. Those of you who have cats or have experienced cats would recognize the posture of slinking around and startling at every little thing then bolting. Then suddenly one day she came in and looked around but in an upright confident posture, then lay on the rug in the hallway and bathed, she even rolled over and invited me to rub her tummy. I’m not that dumb Tavi, but well played nevertheless.  Something set her back, she stopped being willing to come in when invited, but she would step in and eat breakfast if I insisted. Bellamy would WANT to but couldn’t bring himself to cross the threshold with more than a delicate paw. Last week that all changed, at least for now. Tavi will just march in the house with hardly any encouragement, Bellamy most of the time sits outside the door looking in and crying. He breaks my heart that one.

Yesterday I used “kitty crack” also known as Cat Treats to lure Bellamy inside. He also ate breakfast and a snack inside but just barely and the door was required to remain open as he had to keep checking that his freedom wasn’t in peril.

Tavi, on the other hand, came in and stayed again for a long time, she even visited the Christmas trees and paused to be a true indoor cat by tasting the live tree. Yes, I let her chew on my tree, what was I going to do?

I’m including a bunch of photos, most of them aren’t all that good, but they document Octavia’s exploration of the house and Bellamy thinking about it.

 

The pics above were on Friday when she decided to just waltz in and look around.

 

That is Tavi on YOUR left and Bellamy on your right. You will notice he sort of hung back then settled in. You will also notice the door propped open for his comfort.

 

Bellamy can’t quite make himself stay in the house, but you see he did come in without the inducement of food. He wants to be inside, he is very fond of us and seems to crave our company but you know it’s a big space there could be any kind of dangers in there, rugs on the floor, heat vents, hats, blankets and things that make noise! He will get there, it’s just taking so long!

While Bellamy waited outside, Octavia made herself at home.

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I’ll just sit right here and be handsome while I wait for Octavia, you can come pet me though.

 

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It’s an abnormally warm November morning, Octavia and Bellamy have been fed, offered treats to come inside, (Tavi did but the TV freaks Bellamy out completely so note to self, turn the tv off before opening the door and inviting them in.) petted multiple times and engaged in silly conversations. In spite of the warm and overly full tummies, these cats hunt. It’s a common misconception about cats, the idea that they hunt because of hunger. Cats hunt because they are programmed to hunt. When Miss Kitty who lives in your house and sits on your computer keyboard, is chasing that laser you’re shining on the floors and walls, she’s hunting, think on that one.  I’ve called Bellamy and Octavia out of my bird feeding stations more times than I can count, as a matter of fact, I first saw Tavi hunting my birds long before she presented me with her five babies. Looking back I wonder now if in some way the kittens were an exchange for any birds she may have snagged or permanently chased away.

 

 

“No Mom, I’m not hunting, I’m a scarecrow keeping squirrels out of the birdfeeders.”

 

 

While Tavi pretended to be a scarecrow, Bellamy came out of his hiding place in the overgrown Lemon Balm plants and visited with me on the porch. I tried to coax him inside but this time the floor vent was cause for concern. He is brave though and keeps trying.

Note the little wet paw prints all around the boy. This one tugs at my heart in a special way, it’s shocking to me sometimes how much he makes me smile.

 

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My phone, and the sounds it makes taking pictures is still a concern for Bellamy but every now and then I can catch a great photo of him. Isn’t he handsome?  He really has come a very long way in his trust of us, greeting us at the door and rubbing against our legs and pushing his head into our palms asking to be scratched. All of this must be done with great care though, as you can see by his expression in the above photo, he is still very wary. Tavi too continues to warm up by small increments. Yesterday she let me come to her and pet her while she lay on top of the winter box. It’s important to note that prior to that moment we weren’t allowed to touch her unless she and we were standing, heaven forbid you try and pet her when you were sitting on the steps or standing out in the yard. So, the invitation from her to ‘come over here and pet me’ was a wonderful surprise and a great show of her trust for me. We did this twice before I made the mistake of approaching her while wearing my Carolina Panthers hat, no she has no dislike of my team just a fear of the new and different. She studied the hat with a lot of panic written all over her and finally decided that it wasn’t safe and she fled.

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  • On a Thursday night, the crowd is very young, I think the regulars give their tickets to young people. Those young people were so excited to be there, they brought great energy!
  • I understand something like 35% of the Spanish spoken around me. I sat beside two Hispanic men who were very openly pleased when I sat down and said “Hey Y’all.” 😉 They were so excited about the game and while they spoke English to me (and danced and double high-fived me multiple times) they enjoyed the game in Spanish, and by ‘enjoyed’ I mean, they cursed a lot which made me laugh because I was cursing in English along with them.
  • Sports Fans are (generally) a great slice of America, they take their hats off and put their hand on their heart when the National Anthem is sung (Sang? Sung.) On a personal note, that particular National Anthem was my first since the election and I was so proud to be standing there with my hand covering my heart, hyper aware of the two Hispanic men doing the same and the Carolina Panthers ALL on their feet. Sports Fans in America applaud the Military, current and former attending the event, they stand up and they applaud and they are humble and appreciative. They may turn into jerks five minutes later but by golly, they get it.
  • While much booing and even a little name calling can be directed at the opposing team, when one of them is injured and laying on the field, people go silent, they pray, they watch and wait and hope they get up and when they do, they applaud, and they mean it.
  • You can ignore drunk people and they don’t remember it. The guys behind us, they are always there, they talk too much, they drink too much and they get stupid, but even when they attempt to interact with you, because they are drunk, you can ignore them, ask God to forgive you and know that they really won’t remember in the morning. I should note that God has nothing to do with whether or not they remember.
  • When you don’t have much faith left in the people in the world, go to a football game, people hold doors for you, tell you to have a great day, hug you when your team scores, they sing and dance with you and don’t really care what color you are, what language you speak or who you voted for; you share the love of the team!
  • There is a rotten apple in every group; even with all this fun and camaraderie, there is almost always someone who is a jerk, just ignore them.

For every step forward with Octavia and Bellamy, we go backward at least seven times before firmly moving forward. I have patience, I do, but I’m a little weary. One day Bellamy will climb my window screen, crying and calling until I come outside to spend time with him and the next day he will run from me when I open the front door. I’m beginning to have deep concerns about the onset of winter, I’m not sure they are or have gone in the box and now Mark thinks they may be sleeping underneath our wooden sidewalk in the back yard rather than in the Bolton’s shed like we were certain they were.

Progress is slow if not stagnant although Bellamy has started sometimes bumping his head against my hand asking to be petted, though sometimes when I pet him, he smacks me to ask me to stop. He never puts his claws out, and he doesn’t look terrified all the time, but it’s such a slow, slow progress.

I did manage to get some pretty cute photos this week and I know that’s what you are here for.

 

 

I think Meeko and Octavia are really improving their relationship. ❤

 

Bellamy enjoying the afternoon sunshine AND not freaking out because we are not on the porch, normally this is cause for alarm in both kitties.

 

Mark and I have both struggled with the on and off attitudes of these two sweethearts; it wears you out, one day they are in the house sniffing around and the next day they run when you open the door. This is where the Gorilla analogy happens, it’s something I tell myself and Mark daily.

If you found yourself suddenly in the company of gorillas or just one gorilla and that gorilla was kind and calm, bringing you food and making nice sounds at you; how long would it take for you to become comfortable with that nice gorilla wanting to touch you? How about scratching your head? I think most of us can understand the reluctance of Octavia and Bellamy to surrender their fears. This particular “gorilla” is going to keep being kind and patient, lives depend on it.