But what about the “unhuggables” – the cats who are so angry, petrified or just plain kooky that potential adopters can’t even touch them? As you might expect, we have a collective soft spot for these guys at Tabby’s Place.
Now, we do have a handful of likely “lifers”: scaredy-cats or wildcats so timid/scared/scary that we’re likely to be their forever home. I’m grateful that these wacky characters have made their way to Tabby’s Place, where we’ll love them just the way they are for their entire lives. They are safe here, cherished and warm, and genuinely happy. (Of course, if you look up “happy” in the Jackie dictionary, the definition will be: “warm, fed, and supplied with a steady stream of human flesh to bite.” And, yes, Jackie is happy!)
But many of our unhuggables are only so for a season – and, for that, our volunteer socializers have my eternal gratitude and admiration.
Take P.D., who spent over a year with shimmering sable Skye before he could even pet her. Three times a week, as faithful as the moon, P.D. would come to Tabby’s Place and just sit, quietly, patiently, in Skye’s presence. After five years as a hissing, spitting, touch-me-not girl, Skye was adopted last fall. Now, Skye will never be the kind of cat who likes being held like a baby and kissed on the belly (in fact, her patient-as-Job adopters reported that it was about a month before they could pet her), but she genuinely loves affection from those folks who have earned her trust. P.D. taught her that.
Or consider H., who is spectacularly devoted to her socializ-ee, Precious. One of the loveliest calicos east of the Mississippi, Precious has the unfortunate tendency to make folks chuckle at her name, because it’s so…well…ironic. “Precious” would not be most folks’ first choice of a name for a cat who hisses and runs in sheer terror from humans. But, Precious is a gem to us, and to H., whose gentle work with Precious has led to small but real breakthroughs.
And don’t even get me started on Ali, who Jonathan’s aptly described as being “scared of molecules,” but who has learned to accept – and maybe almost enjoy? – petting and brushing from our volunteer socializers.
Or Scooter, whose multiple socializers are so devoted that they consider it a victory when this enormous, hairy, semi-feral fellow refrains from pooping in terror in their presence. These volunteers are the first to agree that it’s unlikely Scooter will ever enjoy being petted or cuddled, and that he’s not terribly likely to be adopted…yet they’re committed to sweetening his time at Tabby’s Place through their patient attention and unconditional love.
I love these people who love the wackiest, scared-i-est, and sometimes downright scariest cats, and I love seeing those kooky cats blossom. It touches the deepest part of me to see people willing – and delighted – to pour out their love and energy on cats who don’t return that love in obvious ways. The Scooters and Jackies of the world haven’t done anything to “deserve” this love – anything other than just being what they are, and being cherished such as they are. That’s about as crystal-clear a parable of grace as I’ve seen.
And grace has a way of transforming its beloved. Who knows? “Wacky Jackie,” Scooter and the other presumed “lifers” at Tabby’s Place may become huggable yet. But, if not, we’ll continue to love them – and to keep all the fingers we want to keep inside the vehicle at all times. 🙂