Ever since it sunk in that my beloved Columbo, my yellow tabby scaredy cat, who i raised from a kitten, really wasn't coming home anymore, i have been keeping my internet eyes open for who might be the next feline presence in our little home.
Cats are the exception. In my home, on our wannabefarmer, we have always had a rule that everyone has a job. Chickens lay eggs and provide meat. Dogs protect chickens and guard the homestead. Ducks make baby ducks for eating. Bees make honey. Crickets feed chickens. Etc. Etc. Etc.
But cats. Their presence makes me happy, and so they get to stay. And if they can do so without throwing up in the super hero's chair or going doo doo on the floor, they can stay in the house where it's warm...or cool....depending on the season, and they can frolic in the woods as they wish.
While we were still in Michigan, i saw a post from someone local who was looking for a country home for a mama kitty who had been rescued from the street with her freezing kittens and needed a non-city home. I figured we had what she needed, so i volunteered. The rescuing party was kind enough to undergo the costs of having her fixed and getting her necessary vaccinations and didn't charge me a rehoming fee....just thanked me for giving her a home.
I got to pick up my bundle of anxiety on Friday evening, and if they told me she was shy, they nailed on the head the nobel prize for understatement of the millennium. I've never had the experience of getting to know such a shy creature. This is very new for me.
I had a few tips under my mental belt before i got her home, and so i put her in my bathroom with food and water and litter and attempted to give her the chance to feel a little more comfortable. That corner of the shower where she planted herself in the picture is where she stayed for probably a solid 12 hours. No movement. I hadn't done enough reading at this point, and i decided i would try to woo her and did the unthinkable thing. I petted her. For shame.
She impatiently withstood two or three strokes, at which point she skulked her way to a corner behind the vanity, atop a paint can, and stayed there almost imperceptible. After a few hours of that, i nudged her again, this time with the intent of making her move, because i just can't abide even a shy cat, living on a paint can. That won't do.
Next i found her alighted on the other end of our shower, but at a higher point, and so successfully that it scared me when i finally found her. She's sneaky, and hides well for a black cat in an orangey tiled shower.
I did some reading on the internet and learned that the experts think i should let her hide and think she's not seen, but in such a way that she can see me.
So i gently, and with slow movements, removed some of the items she was sure to push on to the floor if she dared breathe, and the razors she was lying on top of....'cause that seems bad. And then i hung a blank over the shower rod in the area where she is alighted, and i am now pretending not to see her and definitely not to make direct eye contact with her.
The idea here, for me anyway, is just to help her to trust us a little bit and to associate that this place here is home, and that if she wants to do things like eat, we will feed her.
I can't tell that she's eaten yet. But the interwebs say that's ok for a couple of days. Hopefully all my lack of eye contact will pay off in the near future. Maybe someday she'll let me pet her. But i don't hold out too much hope for that. We'll get her semi-comfortablish, and then we'll probably get a kitten, who will love us unconditionally. Maybe the kitten can make friends with Penelope. Who knows.