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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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