When 14 yr old Buddy lost his home, he was upset. He didn't blame his family, they were caught between a rock and a hard place. He blamed us and he was mad! In the first couple of weeks of Buddy coming to SAINTS we could have used many adjectives to describe him...vicious, nasty, violent, dangerous, mean. He was for sure very angry, and punishing his captors I am sure was somewhat satisfying.
But the reality was that Buddy wasn't vicious, nasty, or mean...ok maybe he was violent and dangerous but from his point of view he thought he had good reason.
I have dealt with many angry cats and the one thing I learned is they all seek validation. They want me to know they are angry and why they are angry and they want me to understand their righteous rage.
And I do..they just had their world turned upside down and were kicked in the proverbial guts. They are hurt and suffering, immeasurably. It breaks my cat loving heart.
My formula for helping them get thru it is patience and kindness and acknowledging their pain.
Years ago I read somewhere that true compassion was the ability to suffer with someone who was suffering without letting the sharing of suffering break you.
That's not always easy but it is critical because how can you help someone else if you collapse in a puddle of pain?
It is a fine line that allows you to feel the suffering of others without getting lost in the suffering pool.
So Buddy and I have an tenuous pact..I accept he is upset, I acknowledge not only his pain but his anger and fear as well. I am careful in my interactions with him..being accessible and present without invading his safe space. In return for this Buddy is beginning to trust me...I can safely clean his cage, I can use one of my fingers to stroke his head and when he does decide to come near me, I can stroke him down his back.
Buddy is still struggling, he is cautious and nervous and I must respect that and not push myself beyond his comfort zone. I must wait until each encounter to see how much or how little he wants to interact. Buddy is out of his cage now and will come when I call him, and I can pet him hello. However, he is still in pain... his eyes are still cautious, his body is still nervous and tense. He is still struggling in his suffering but a little less so...he is willing to give me a cautious chance.
Eventually he will trust fully again, eventually he will let his full guard down. But until then I watch and I listen to his silent struggle as he tries to make sense of this new world.
Love you Buddy, no rush, whenever you are ready we are here for you.