Sometimes we are given impossible instructions.
“Do not heckle the sub tomorrow,” says your 7th-grade teacher.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” says the clod about to tell you your hair looks like Brillo.
“Respond to this in dignified fashion,” say the 100,000 people who signed the official government petition to deport Justin Bieber.
And, most impossible of all, “Do not touch Camille,” says the sign on Tabby’s Place’s Community Room door.
You read that right. You are hereby not to touch the shimmering, sprightly, darling kitten…who will spend your entire visit mugging for your attention and pondering at you with “Why do you hate me?” eyes of sorrow.
Can you do it? Is obeying such a request even possible? Or is it like forcing yourself to try to like a genre of music that sounds cool, only to find your ears curling up in despair and trying to crawl into your head? (I’m looking at you, bebop jazz.)
Most importantly: why would the evil overlords of Tabby’s Place even demand such a thing?
It’s madness, yea — but there’s method to it.
What you may not realize, upon first meeting that shimmering kitten, is that you are in the presence of a loaded cannon. OK, more like a loaded PEZ dispenser — but one that’s been pulled back to the breaking point, then held there for 300 days…only to be released with thundering force.
Camille is not so harmless as she seems.
When she came to Tabby’s Place, Camille sported the single worst case of ringworm we’d ever seen. Nearly-bald and teeming with fungi, this baby was bound for quarantine. Alas, the regular 6-week ringworm regimen was no match for Camille’s uberfungus, and so weeks stretched into months…and months…and before we knew it, Camille wasn’t such a baby anymore.
We were reminded why Tabby’s Place is a cage-free sanctuary. The following statement is going to be so profound that it may take you a lifetime and 3 Ph.D.s to fully grasp it, but I know you’re up for it: cages are bad.
Camille proved this with atomic power. Over the course of her long exile to the ringworm gulag, Camille went from “sweet puff of a baby” to “wild saber-toothed succubus from hell.” Gizmo became a Gremlin.
And that brings us to today.
Camille has kept her contents under pressure for too long, leaving her desperate to shake out the frantic frenzy of kittenhood. Now that she’s uncaged, she’s untamed, and all fingers/faces/scraps of humanity are game for her pointy bits. You touch her, she’ll strike you. Or, more ominously, she’ll love you and rub you and moosh you and then suddenly end you.
So seriously: do not touch the kitten.
However, this rule is not for your benefit. Cruel and absurd as it sounds, “do not touch Camille” exists for the sole purpose of making Camille more touchable in the long-term.
Our volunteer behavioral consultant, the eminent Nancy, noticed that Good People were unwittingly interacting with Camille in ways that released the beast within. Camille would bite; the Good People would keep petting her, or, worse, turn their fingers into toys/tater tots. Further biting ensued. There would be blood.
And Camille would learn the very wrong lesson: When I bite, I get more attention. And human flesh. Full of win!
This could not continue. Camille was fast growing to full stature, and soon those tiny teeth would lose her friends left and right…and threaten her odds of ever being adopted. It was time for something drastic. Something impossible.
It was time for “do not touch the kitten.”
Lest you picture Camille sitting untouched in a corner with nothing but a Little Golden Book and a cold, molded mustard sandwich, let me put your mind at ease. Camille is actually touched quite often. She has a rollicking good play session every afternoon. But the impossible sign is a necessary “stop” to anyone who would bolster her bad behavior. It provokes a “why?” and a “waahh!” and a training in how to properly interact with Camille. It’s all about encouraging her better angels.
Which brings us to one last impossible thing. When you’re loving on Camille and she bites you — which, she will — just walk away, Renee.
Do not touch the kitten.
Do not bop her on the nose.
Do not sing her a rousing chorus of XO.
Just. Walk. Away.
Can you do it? Will you do it?
I ask you: how deep is your love?
This tough-love strategy is no one’s cup of Ovaltine. However, it’s working — and Camille’s forever home is looking more and more possible with each day. When we answer Camille’s baddest behavior with a turned back, Camille gets it. Bite = buh-bye, and if there’s one thing Camille hates, it’s buh-bye. But No Bite = endless love. And Camille loves endless love even more than Lionel Richie. The wild wonder is learning just how little she needs to talk with her teeth.
On the other side of impossible lies love. Camille, we are 1,000% on your side.