Dhaimhnhait is a complicator. Dhaimhnhait is an enigma. Dhaimhnhait breaks my heart and makes me laugh at the same time. Dhaimhnhait is sitting next to me hoping that I will put my hand down so she can pet me. I cannot pet her-it has to be her petting me.
I was never a cat person, but my husband was always bringing home cats. I was baffled by their behaviour after years of having dogs. I brought home Cujo in 1994. I was jogging in the cemetery and this little cat, about 6 months old, kept running out to me crying. A lady who visited her husband's grave every day told me she had seen a car pull up that morning and toss the cat out and take off. She gave it water, but it was hungry and frightened. I don't know why I picked him up and took him home, but when I did, he made my son laugh so loudly that I knew it was right. My son had been battling his own dubchas, and it was his first laugh I had heard in months. Cujo loved the boys, played rough and hard, learned all manner of crazy tricks, and gave us much laughter. He is protective-he woke me in the middle of the night when someone broke into my home, and he tried to lead me to safety. He sits sentinel in the garden and denies entry to cats, dogs, and squirrels (but he does allow mice so he can torture them).
When I was divorcing, I thought that getting a kitten would help me battle through the long dubchas that followed. Kate and I played with every kitten in the shelter, and I brought Sorcha home on June 6, 1999. I had trained all out cats to stay out of my room due to my allergies, but Sorcha had none of that-she insisted on sleeping on my head like a small fur cap. Over the years, she has moved to my knee; even when deeply asleep, I can feel her head resting on my knee. I cannot sleep well without her. We have a symbiotic relationship-she needs me to support her in the style she feels she deserves and I need to be adored.
Dhaimhnhait is a different story. I didn't need a lift, I was really too busy to take on another responsibility and I was working while I was in school so I was exhausted all of the time.
I was stricken by all the videos of abandoned animals starving during Hurricane Katrina's devastation. Bad enough the human suffering but the countless pets without food and water, living in fear, unable to understand where their humans were gone to-the images broke my heart. I thought about adopting a Katrina pet. My hours do not allow me to have a dog-they need walking and being outside more regularly than I can give. They did not bring any cats to my state because we already had an overload. I wondered- if I adopted a cat here and left one empty space in a shelter, would that pay it forward enough?
So I looked- and this is what I found:
Something about her little face made me so sad. I did an online application, had a visit from the slightly odd (ok REALLY odd) shelter person. I visited the kitty in her insane crazy cat lady foster home (REALLY insane), and eventually brought her home. I did it all right- kept her shut in one room for over a week to get her acclimated and let the other cats gets used to her scent, introduced her slowly, etc. Made no difference- World War Kitty had begun. I had to add two more litter boxes, referee, and vacuum up tufts of evidence from their tussles. Little by little, they all calmed down.
She had once been some one's pet, and was tossed out to fend for herself. She foraged in a semi-suburban area, eating trash and field mice and birds. Local teens used her for target practice, and she has a few BB's still lodged in her larger muscles. When she was captured by the empathetic sister of the crazy cat lady, she was then sent to safety-which meant being de-wormed, immunized and spayed. She's known so much suffering and pain at the hands of humans. It's no surprise that she has trust issues.
I spent hours sitting on the floor reading and studying until she would creep silently over to my side to pet me. If I moved, she ran away. I talked to her all the time, getting her used to the sound of my voice. I tried a bunch of names and she answered to Dhaimhnhait- Little Doe. Like a timid, skittish deer she is, and it suits her. She does not come reliably when I call her, but she knows her name.
It really bothered me at first when she tussled with the other cats. I have since learned not to take it personally- they work out their issues and I only intervene when meanness is occurring. Dev has switched her territory numerous times. For a non-alpha cat in a multi-cat household, it amazes me how she has maneuvered her way into several choice spots-right now she controls the coveted window seat, in summer she loves the open front door. Unlike the other two, I cannot let her outside-she does not come when called and cannot be trusted, so window and door are important to her.
She recently had some dental extractions- more pain. At the post-op check, she had lost a whole pound. They upped her pain meds because she wasn't healing. Each morning before work and each day when I returned, I had to catch her and shove pills down her throat. Then I figured it out-the opioids were making her sick to her stomach. I stopped the pills, her appetite boomed, and she healed up quickly.
She still doesn't get along with the other cats, but she holds her own with them. She finds ways to get me all to herself. Her pleasures are small, but she enjoys them- watching the birds, chasing random objects-the usual kitty stuff. She is safe, she is fed regularly, she is tortured at the vet's seldom, and sometimes her person buys the really really good cat food as a treat. When she needs to be petted, she comes and finds a kind hand to brush against. Occasionally, there is a box. She really likes it when there is a box. Is this what she dreamed about when she crouched in the cold beneath a bush all alone?
I sure hope so.