First of all, it’s just too cliché.
But more importantly, I’d give far more than a cent to know what’s rambling in Penny’s head.
Penny is one of those cats who seems to want something we just won’t - can’t - give her.
In her two-and-a-half years at Tabby’s Place, Penny’s spent most of her time silently communicating one thing: Please look past me. Walk on by. I’m not here - I’m background. Move along, nothing to see here.
Much as we love to make cats happy and give them what they want, we can’t oblige here. Protest though she might, Penny is not part of the wallpaper, and we can’t - won’t - ignore her. Besides, I’ll bet you one Eloise and four Dessert Kids that Penny doesn’t really want to sink into the siding. We know she was loved once, before the shelter, before the sorrow of losing her person - and we’ll be darned if she won’t believe us that she’s loved again here. (We really don’t want to be darned, so there’s a lot riding on this.)
Penny started out living the subterranean life at Tabby’s Place 2 1/2 years ago. But hers was a different sort of under-the-couch existence: no hissing came from Penny, and her eyes didn’t flash with terror. Quietly, sadly, with a certain resignation, she simply squeezed herself all the way against the farthest wall, avoiding eye contact, aching over her fate. Think of her like an 18th-century Gothic heroine, banished to a tower and forced to eat Fancy Feast and face the intrusion of kissy faces cooing in baby talk.
In moving from one of our smaller adoption rooms to Suite C, Penny went from couch to cubby, taking up residence in the deepest recesses of the suite. Should you invade her hidey-hole, Penny would never bite you, nor so much as hiss - it was all terrified looks, don’t-kill-me-too-much gazes and cringing horror.
Tabby’s Place was not Penny’s happy place. I don’t know why; do we ever know? Maybe she thought we were going to turn her into a coat, Cruella DeVil-style. Maybe she thought we were going to force-feed her vegan cheese and shots of Five Hour Energy. (I hear she actually really likes that 2:30 feeling.) Or maybe she thought we were going to dress her like this.
Whatever her fears, they’ve been taking a beating in the last six months, and Penny’s shine is showing. Again, we can’t know why. Is it the patient work of her (loooooooooong-suffering) volunteer socializer? Have Mango and Desi done an intervention? At age eleven, is Penny just getting senile and forgetting that humans are horrifying?
Why ask why?
We’re loving the new Penny - the true Penny, the Penny who plays and chirps for food and watches kittens through the glass the way I watched Saved by the Bell in elementary school: eager, enchanted, elated, obsessive.
Odds are, if you venture into Suite C, you’ll still find Penny in her hidey-hole. But there’s a difference now: the angst and agony is gone from her little face.
In its place? Something that looks a lot like…hope.
Oh, Penny. Hundred million dollars for your thoughts?