Category: Studio Kittens

Caturday: A Fantastical Story for the Studio Kittens

If I were to cast the Studio Kittins into a story, they would each be members of a royal family in a fantastical world. I imagine Shibumi, the fierce warrior-queen, confident, courageous and a bit of a bruiser with a constant expectation of victory (#shibumiwins)

Scout would be the poet-prince, sensitive and high-strung but also the flirt, the peacemaker, the bonvivant…

And Escher would be the prince who stands apart, the expectation of imminent betrayal has him wary with all but a very few. His good looks but cold demeanour capable of breaking more than a few hearts.

Caturday: Progress for Escher

Escher

Escher has been feeling so much more at ease. A few times I’ve seen him lying outstretched, tummy open, in front of the open window. And yesterday, as he was sitting on this sweater, I went to pet him and just for a moment he did the traditional cat curl, flopping over to his side, leaning his head back and exposing his belly just a touch.

Progress.

Caturday: A Moment with Shibumi

Yesterday, I was working in the studio when I heard a bit of a bump and shuffle downstairs. As any cat mom would, I flew out of my chair to have a look. As I went down the stairs, I heard a scrambling and thought, “Who is in the sink?” Then I saw Shibumi, holding herself up by the paws on the frame of the kitchen window, the window above the coffee maker. Her feet were trying to find purchase. Clearly she had tried to jump up into the little window edge and hadn’t quite made it. I could see where she had tried to touch down on the table but had hit the top of the sugar container instead, flipping it over and giving her nothing stable sto stand on.

I reached out.

With her level of tension and her past, I knew I might be in for it. She would likely use my arm as a safetly ledge and spring/tear away with vigour and speed.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead she came to me easily and leaned in, her poor little heart beating a million miles a minute. She stayed in my arms, letting me pet her until she calmed and even began purring. Then she was ready to be off on her next adventure.

One of Shibumi’s previous adventures

One Vulnerable Truth about Our Kitten Rescue

2017-03-16 Scout Shibumi Escher

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost two years since that fateful day when I followed a “free kittens” sign into a trashed apartment and saw Escher giving me the stink-eye from behind the fridge. Within hours, three mistreated abandoned kittens had a new home. It’s been a slow and patient process of building trust, of learning to love and be loved. And I want to tell you something vulnerable (since we seem to be on that theme today) and true. Sometimes it’s hard. Even now, sometimes it’s hard.

I’ll stumble across adorable videos of someone playing with their docile, loving kittens and think, it was never like that for us. When I see loving, peaceful, gentle cats being picked up and cuddled, when I see head butts and paw taps and cats curled up in laps, all those beautiful moments of cat love, a deep longing stirs inside me. We have some of these moments but they are often few and far between.

This is not to say that I don’t love these three. If you’ve been around for the journey you know how fiercely I do. I love discovering each of their personalities – Scout’s sweetness, Shibumi’s irrepressibleness and Escher’s deep presence. I’ve cherished helping each one feel secure enough to eat, to sleep, to relax and to be at home. It is an extraordinary thing to help a cat learn what it is to be pet, to help them receive love.They are my muses and they live in a deep place in my heart.

It’s also not to say they haven’t come leaps and bounds from where we started. They have and I believe they will continue to do so. Scout regularly offers up his belly for pets. Shibumi purrs as soon as I talk to her. And Escher… well… even Escher now brings me his toy and comes to me for pets. There are a million precious moments I treasure.

But I don’t want to romanticize what it means to rescue abandoned kittens. I want to tell the whole story, a story of the kind of love that meets and stays with the truth. The truth is these three are still a little wild and maybe they always will be. The truth is I’ll probably always love that about them, even as I wish they would be tame.

Learning to Receive Love

Shibumi in Carrier

Our biggest worry when we took in three abandoned kittens was that they would never be interested in or even be truly able to connect with people, that they would always be wary, aloof and untouchable.

For the past 11 days we’ve seen them move forward so much. (Follow their daily progress on  Chronicles of the Triplets) Slowly they moved out of their hiding spot beneath the piano. Warily they began to eat, stretch out and even sleep with us near by. Shannon, Justin and I spent as much time in the Kitten Zone as we could. We got down on the floor with them. We threw paper balls. We doled out treats. If we reached out our hands, they bolted.

We learned, instead, to sit close by, to sidle up inch by inch and be patient. (I can barely describe how badly we all want to reach down and pick up these little boos and hold them to our hearts!) The more we spent time with the kittens, the more we became aware of their signals. If there was any tension at all in their body, any wariness in their eyes, we moved away.

In the past few days something started to change. For me, it started with Scout.

2015-07-12 Scout

Scout has been the most terrified of the kittens. It took days for him to even look at me. And now when he does, it’s looks like this – full of soul and… something.  It’s as though he is longing for something but has no way to ask for it.

It isn’t food because, trust me, they’ve all learned how to ask for that.

I’ve spent hours sitting quietly next to Scout. I’ve counted it a success every time he hasn’t moved away. Then, the other day, he surprised me by shifting and coming in a little closer. I was amazed when next he reached out his paw towards me. I gently moved in just a little bit. He put his head forward. Emboldened, I gently stroked his paw, just once, twice, and then, heart full to bursting, I let the moment go.
JRS 2015-07-11 Shibumi near Stove

Soon Shibumi showed signs of a similar longing. As I sat with Scout and Escher, she trotted over and curled up near me too and started to purr. Gently, I reached out and touched her side. She startled and then came back and looked at me. I tried again. One stroke. Two. She moved away and returned. This time I tried petting her head, gently rubbing around her ears, and she sat there as though on a precipice of longing, on one side the familiar, on the other side love.

That’s when Escher became curious as well.

Escher on Purple Pillow

His desire was clear, as was the fact that he didn’t know what he was longing for, how to ask for it or how to receive it. I reached out gently. He pulled away. I tried again, approaching from a different angle. He stayed very, very still. I rubbed his head and up around his ears and watched. It was like he didn’t quite understand what was happening but he couldn’t walk away.

It was in that moment that I started to understand is that we are literally teaching the kittens how to receive love. The desire is there but they have no experience with it at all. They have never been touched kindly, never stroked until they fell asleep, never picked up with love or kissed on the nose.

And though love is a wonderful gift, for the kittens, just as it has been (and may still be) for many of us, learning to receive love and affection is tremendously uncomfortable while being magically magnetic.

Love is vulnerable. It’s a risk. A risk we need to keep on taking if we want to feel loved and at home.

The Triplets Together
photo by Shannon

Taking in three abandoned kittens came as quite a surprise – as does three vet visits, three sets of vaccines and three spay/neuter surgeries! So we’re getting creative and relaunching the Sparkles e-course in support of these much-loved rescues! We’ve even made the registration fee adjustable in case you want to add a little extra to their care package. We know they’d appreciate it.

Sign up for Sparkles – LIVE and bring your creativity to life in just 5 minutes a day. Your heart will start sparkling right away with doing good!