Love Is Earned

Boris, our hulk of a cat at 17 pounds, came to us via a friend of my daughters. He had hidden somewhere in a vehicle and ended up at a home that couldn’t keep him. I took one look at him and knew he was for us. From a tiny kitty, he grew to be a handsome boy that has always loved to cuddle and be near one of us at all times. He is not a mischief maker but quiet and mellow.

A couple of weeks after we adopted Boris I saw Natasha at an adoption event sponsored by a humane society. It was clear she was part Siamese and also around 7 months old, the same age as Boris. We hadn’t planned on adopting another cat, but after seeing Natasha, I couldn’t forget about her, and a week later we contacted the humane society and Natasha came home with us.

It was clear from the start Natasha was a troublemaker. She immediately was able to unlatch our bi-fold door between the kitchen and the porch and enter the room. We had to put a hook on the door and then she tried to unhook the hook. We had to put child locks back on our cupboard doors in the kitchen, and occasionally we spend a good amount of time trying to find out where she is when she hides somewhere, including inside the back of our recliner. And any closed box is a challenge to her.

Where Boris loved to be held, Natasha was standoffish. She would only be petted on her terms, wouldn’t come out when we had company and mostly ignored us. In looking into her history we found she had been born and raised in the shelter. We thought that contributed to her not wanting to be held or not being very social. She loved Boris, and the two of them were two peas in a pod although he would look at her at times and we could only guess he was thinking, “What is she doing?”

We have had our two cuties five years. About two years ago, Natasha would come to me and sit for a few seconds so I could pet her. Soon she moved to sleeping down at the end of my bed. During the day she began to follow me around. As time passed, she decided she liked to sit up near my shoulder and she even began to purr, which was something that we heard very seldom.

And then about six months ago she began to sit on the arm of the chair where my husband sits when he watches television. She wouldn’t stay very long and wouldn’t get on his lap or shoulder, but we could hear the purrs when she was there. One day she decided she wanted to be picked up and carried on his shoulder like a small child. She looks over his shoulder just like a baby would and she now will meow when she wants him to pick her up and walk with her. The minute he stops or sits, she is done and gets down. She also enjoys a ride in the empty clothes hamper across the floor back to where it is supposed to sit. She will sit at the laundry room door waiting for her ride.

Before I go to sleep and right away in the morning she now climbs up on my chest and nuzzles my nose and then sits for at least 15 minutes purring while I pet her. She is the last thing I see before I close my eyes and the first thing I see when I open my eyes in the morning.

It took over three years for Natasha to give us her trust and love. During the years she was being standoffish she would sleep with and nuzzle Boris for comfort. I suspect other cats were the only way she was given love her early months. Not that the volunteers at the shelter didn’t give her love and attention but it wasn’t what she needed to bond and trust.

Her mischievousness didn’t always make life with Natasha easy. Loving her was not always easy. But we persevered, and no matter what trouble she got into or how distant she was, we always tried to let her know she was loved and cherished. We had patience and after three years we didn’t think she would change, but eventually our loving her won out and she is a loving, cuddly cat and she trusts us.

Maybe as humans, love can win out, too, when it comes to each other. We don’t make it easy for someone to love us. And trust has to be earned, especially after it has been broken. If we are hurt, we pull back. We become standoffish.

Or perhaps the other shoe is that we think someone is beyond repair, and so we give up on them too easily. We don’t understand their past or the hurts they have suffered. Maybe others have never had love and because of it find it hard to trust.

Natasha has taught me patience can eventually have its reward and it is possible to break through the barriers if we love someone through the muck of life. The outcome purrs are worth it.

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” — Martin Luther King Jr.