We adopted our cats, Chico and Uno, as kittens from the Atlanta Humane Society, over a year ago. We think of them as brothers but they came from opposite sides of the adoption room, meeting for the first time when we let them out of their boxes in our home. Not only did they have to get to know each other, but they had to explore a strange new environment and two new humans. To say they were wary is an understatement. We occasionally saw Chico, but Uno stayed totally hidden. Uno had watched his real brother get adopted out of his cage only one day before being chosen by us. He was grieving in a foreign land with another cat he didn’t know.
My friend Carole, a fellow cat lover, suggested a bonding technique. She instructed me to lie on the floor for 20 minutes several times a day. I was told to stay totally still, even if the cats came within touching distance. After two or three days of lying motionless, eyes closed, ￼and no contact with the kittens, I began to feel their presence near me. Before long, I felt rubbing on my feet and hair. I followed the instructions to a T and did not reach out for these furry creatures. I started adding a morsel of dry cat food in each open and non-responsive hand. The cats ate the morsels and kept coming back for more. Before long, they were staying close to me as I ended each trust session.
It sounds dumb to say it, but my temptation was to grab the kittens and force them to accept my affection. Instead, I followed Carole’s idea of giving Chico and Uno all the time and space they needed to learn they could trust me. Everyone who meets these cats knows they became gentle, sweet creatures who love humans and each other. Uno is especially open to strangers. Chico is like a loving dog to me, a constant affectionate companion.
There is an important lesson here for spouses, parents, friends, and, maybe even foes. I certainly think the take-away has something to do with acceptance and patience, loving others as they are, giving them the space they need to fully develop and trust. What’s your take-away?