We had a bad storm three nights ago and Sophie didn’t come around for the first time in weeks. She must have known it was coming, and hunkered down early to hide from the impending thunder and lightning. The next night, the night following the storm, she showed up skittish and covered in dust. She must have found a dirty, gray place to hide. The thought of her quivering in fear, hiding from the storm, was just too much. We were coming up on three months since I first saw her, skinny and hungry and desperate for food. That first night, when she ate and ate and ate.
I couldn’t leave her outside any longer. I couldn’t bear the thought of her continually frightened any more.
Two days ago I called my mobile vet. She gave me lots of great advice on the safe room. She told me to dismantle the bed so Sophie couldn’t hide beneath it. She wanted to be able to examine her when she came. And she wanted me to be able to pet and soothe her. So my neighbor and I propped the mattress and box springs tight against the wall. Horizontally so Sophie could jump on top if she wanted to climb. I gave her stuffed animals in case she needed a mommy, and a new mouse filled with catnip. The Feliway came from Amazon today and I plugged one into the fixture in the safe room, and one in my master bedroom to soothe Sadie and Sally.
As she has done nearly every night for the past three months, Sophie came tonight, mustering up her courage and yearning for affection. She ate her can of tuna and several treats. My neighbor and I petted her for nearly an hour. She’d leave and hide around the corner, giving herself a bath. And then she’d return for more pets. At long last she let me pick her up and I held her close and petted her. She purred and snuggled in my arms. And then she saw my neighbor coming with the carrier. She struggled, and as I put her in the carrier, she howled in anguish. My heart broke at the sound. I zipped the door closed and covered the case with a towel in hopes of soothing her while I carried her inside, past Sadie and Sally, and up the stairs to the safe room. All the while she howled, as Sadie and Sally looked on with wide eyes.
I set the carrier in the corner of the safe room. The light was low, the litter box in the corner alongside the scratching post was dimly lit. My neighbor had placed a fresh bowl of water and dry food well away from the litter box. I unzipped the case and Sophie let out another howl as she slunk out of the carrier. She sniffed the stuffed horse and ran to the other side of the room, keeping her body low to the ground. I opened the closet and she slipped inside and hid in the corner.
Eventually I began to pet her, and she whimpered softly. She then sprinted out of the closet and jumped atop the mattress and box spring, cowering in fear. My neighbor and I spoke softly, trying to soothe her. I tried to pick her up and slip her back into the dark safety of the closet, but she dug her claws into the fabric and wouldn’t let go. I picked up a large decorative pillow and leaned it against the wall atop the box spring, providing a little tunnel for her to hide behind. I placed another pillow next to it, lengthening her hiding place. We left her cowering behind the pillows, softly closing the door behind us.
I feel so awful for causing her to be so frightened. One minute she was purring in my arms, the next she’s stuffed into a case and deposited in an unfamiliar room. Indoors! After spending so many months outside. I know she’s safe now. I hope she knows it, too. I hope she begins to settle with the lack of constant stimulation–cars and dogs and hunger and storms and strangers and slamming doors and unfamiliar surroundings. Everywhere. Every minute. I hope she feels the tension ease when she awakens to quiet. And fresh food and water. And a warm room with a soft pillow and sheep fur.
Meanwhile, I’m lying in bed writing this post. Sadie and Sally take turns lying next to me, seemingly unconcerned that there’s a strange kitty in the room down the hall. Maybe the Feliway is working. Maybe they’ll love each other.
I feel horrible. I hate scaring her. But she’s safe, now. I hope she learns to be happy and content here.
- And Sophie Makes Three? (unconfirmedbachelorette.com)
- Sophie the Stray Cat (But Not For Much Longer) Photo Blog (unconfirmedbachelorette.com)