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Good Relationships are a 2 way experience – even with cats

Good Relationships are a 2 way experience – even with cats

I dedicate this blog post to my (Anglo Burmese) good friend Dean and his lovely Queen Silvia who passed away recently. She was the apple of his eye and bonded since birth. Looking at their relationship gives me hope for mine with Kayli and Bella.

 

I picked up, on July 9th with the help of my brother, 2 female kitties from the Toronto Cat Rescue https://torontocatrescue.ca/ around 7-8 months as they were found – sisters I am told and not feral. They are still learning their names which I changed as one was named Blue. Bella and Kayli are not my first cats, remember Daisy my last (2018) cat? I was close with all my feline family but this time our bonding is taking longer.

Interacting with them, I started to think about relationships because the first thing they did was to hide from me. If they could not see me all was well. So I kept them in my large bathroom for a few days. Safety was their number one goal as their food was not a problem – they ate when I was not around. No matter how much I felt love for them or spoke in a sweet voice, they were having none of me until on the 4th day they did not hide but stayed far so I could not touch them. Then I let them into my bedroom and locked the door so they could not hide in the rest of the home where it would be difficult to find them. Another step in the relationship. Now they live in the bedroom but still aloof. They know I bring them their food and treats – that’s nice but go away so we can eat. One step at a time. They have to learn to trust.

Made me think about how many other relationships are much the same. The lack of trust hinders a relationship where both parties can enjoy the interactions understanding the comfort level of each party. Sometimes letting another person into a paired relationship (they have each other – I am the outsider) can be problematic. I saw this as both would come and look at me and then one would run calling the other (they talk a lot to each other). There I was left alone. In human relationships, we can lock other people from joining our groups when we view them as intruders – the outsider who just is not one of us. They don’t look like us, speak the same language or behaviours that are different. We humans can learn from our furry friends – their loyalty and love when they trust you.

As the days went on since July 9, every day showed improvements. I could touch one or both on the heads when I was in bed and they were on the floor. Then they would run. Last night both Bella and Kayli jumped on my bed, (I am sure they did this when I was asleep) and allowed me to pet their heads – nothing more, and off they went after a few minutes. I was elated, wanting more but knowing the relationship was on their terms. I acknowledged that they now trust me a little more because when I am in the room they no longer hide but have begun to play non stop – but I must not go near them or off they go under the bed or chair where they love to sleep – that is where they still feel safe. Yes, I could grab them and force them to let me pet them, but I am building trust on their terms.

Take away thought – trust and feeling safe are the foundation of a good relationship even with other humans. Sometimes we have to wait for people to come and interact with us and not push them on our timeline. ©

Merle Jacobs

From Rangoon to London then to Canada, now home. Professor in Toronto. Research areas - health and equity, the nursing profession, Anglo Burmese culture Published in the areas of Nursing, health, racism

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