** I am really pissed at Tribe that I have no access to any of the pics I posted. I have no remaining photos of my kitties from this time period, and the one accompanying this blog entry on Tribe is my favorite. Damn. **
Wed, May 9, 2007
I met Pip when he was 5 months old. A friend got him from the shelter she worked in; she chose him because he turned into a pile of mush when you got your hands on him. What she didn't realize is that until you got your hand on him, he'd be terrified of you... absolutely terrified of being approached, picked up or handled. She got him home, put him down and no one really saw much of him after that. He would eat at night and slink around corners, avoiding everyone as best he could.
I moved in the house for a few years. It killed me that this cat was so afraid, so I began to seek him out and pay attention to the fact that he existed. I played this little head game with him- talk to him, then walk away and ignore him. It began to work after some time. In the morning, I'd be the first to awaken and the first into the bathroom. He began to follow me to the bathroom, standing in the doorway watching me pee- I would leave the door open a bit so we could have our morning visit. It was so sweet. Day by day he'd get closer and closer to me, eyes wide, gulping with fear. I would talk to him and tease him- "I can't eat you yet, silly, you're too skinny" or "I'm going vegetarian, your problems are solved".
After a few months he began to want to be near me, following me around the house. I'd find him in my room when I came home- he'd run out in a panic, but he'd be there nonetheless. I began to meditate on him and sent him messages of friendship and hope, and tried my best to be small around him and inviting... then one day, he came up to me in the room and let me touch him. I cried some tears of joy that day, it was a beautiful victory.
Eventually I moved away. I went to Boston, and then got accepted into vet school. Shammy came into my life at that time.
I went back to the house the summer before vet school. It was a rockin' party, and I was experimenting with... a substance... for the first time. I lay in the living room covered in a blanket checking in with myself as I like to do when trying something new. He came into the room and stared at me. I felt, clear as a bell, a message in his gaze-
"take me with you, please, I'm lonely, I need you."
The next day I laughed at myself, but I took it seriously. For what if the message was real? And not long after, before I had the chance to ask my friend for him, she offered him to me. "He's a weirdo, I can't stand having a cat in the house who isn't even a pet... you guys have some strange bond... he needs you."
So this is how Pippin came to live with me.
The first couple of months were rough for him. I did not free feed him. I put him in my office, and he hid from me. I sat with the food twice a day, leaving it down for only 10 minutes. He was on a hunger strike for a little while and then finally gave in. He began to see that food and love were what was being delivered and in no time at all, would come out relatively quickly to get some food and some loving. In fact, he loved being petted more than the food; if I petted him he would forget the food and flop on the floor, languishing in the massage. He truly was a little slut this way. It was a beautiful thing.
In no time at all we let him out and he became part of the household. He got to know my housemates and let them touch him. He slept in my room while I was at class, and came in to wake me for breakfast in the morning. Over the years I moved him a few times and he would freak out, but began to adjust more and more quickly. I was so proud! Every now and then he would have a set back and it would send me into tears, feeling like all this trust had been undone. It would always get better, though, and even better than before.
This year he was even more amazing. He began to stay wherever he was when strangers would come. I would caution people to approach him slowly and with care, and he began to let strangers touch him and love him. It moved my heart to great heights to see this. My beloved sweet Pippin, trying so hard to stay calm and learn that people are good things. He began to speak to me as well, learning to meow and chit at me, and I would talk back. He had the most hilarious squeak and pip. He would talk to me when it was time for supper, and it always made me laugh.
In the last two months before the tragedy, I began to pick him up and stroke him in my arms. I would stand before the mirror so I could watch his eyes and they were relaxed, little slits, not the dinner plates he wore for years. He let me kiss his head and love him. Before he could panic I would set him gently down, pet him one last stroke, and walk away not looking at him to remove any residual fear in him. It was working, he was letting me hold him for a long time in my arms and love him.
He was incredibly special to me. Anytime I was on the floor in my room, stretching or putting on shoes, sitting crosslegged before the mirror getting makeup on to go out, he would come and wind his tail about my body in a kitty-hug. He had the most amazing banner tail. Soft as clouds, winding about my leg or waist or face. The only thing he wanted in life was my love and affection. He would let me groom or pet him threadbare if I wanted. For hours and hours.
I am going to miss him terribly. All these years of slow and patient work, this is a cat who learned how to love. He did his very best, and I know it. He worked hard with me to unfold and blossom and I am eternally grateful that he knew love before he left this plane. He will be in my heart forever, my sweet fuzzy butt. Rest in peace, dearest of friends.