A cat angel to love a young man and help him cope with the death of his mother.

Time and Loving Patience

She's sits at my feet like a dog, as she always does, when I come home from work. What a difference seven years made in this little girl's life.

The small grey cat, with a white nose and neck, stared at my sixteen-year-old son Justin through the bars of her cage at the animal shelter. She was the third cat he inspected. Justin's mom passed away four months before. He came home from school to an empty house and begged me for a cat - something to love him.

"Her name is Kitten." the lady said. "She's two or three years old. Her owner was an elderly lady who passed away. Her son tried to take her in, but his son was allergic to cats, so she ended up here. I hope you can give her a home."

She spilled it out like a car salesman giving the description of a car.

I looked at Justin. "What do you think, son?"

"She's pretty."

"Yes she is. Do you want to take her home?"

He nodded, "Yeah, Dad. Let's take her."

The shelter gave us a cardboard carrying case. I bought a litter box, litter and food. I didn't want a cat, but my son needed her love. It was for him.

"If you have a spare room, put her in there with food, water and her litter box. It will take time for her to adjust." the lady said. "Go to the room, feed and spend time with her. It won't take long for her to trust you."

Kitten came home with us. I filled her dishes with food and water and poured litter into her litter box.

I opened her carrier, "OK, Kitten. Are you ready?" She stared back at me. Her eyes were dark and evil with fear and doubt. "Come on little girl." I coaxed.

She hissed, jumped from the carrier and hid behind my computer desk. "Here, Kitten." I reached for her. Her head shot forward. She bit my hand, drawing blood.

I pulled my hand back and looked at the punctures. "You little ..."

She stared defiantly at me, as I pulled a Kleenex from my pocket and held it to my wound. "Fine, Kitten! You can stay there."

My computer was in the room, so I spent a lot of time there. Kitten hid in the closet when I was there, but two days later, I walked into her room. She came from behind the desk, rubbed against my legs with her tail held high, and allowed me to pet her.

Later that day, Justin called me. "Dad, I came home from school and Kitten came right to me. She's in my room now."

I smiled. They had each other.

Kitten latched onto my son and not me. She sat in the door of his room and hissed or growled at me when I walked by. For two years she only left his room for her food or to use her litter box.

She began to get brave and come down the stairs, but only when my son was home. If he wasn't home, she'd sit half way down the stairs. When I walked by, she'd hiss, reach through the rails, swat me in the arm and run back up the stairs.

My wife Ginny was home during the day. When it was quiet, Kitten came down the stairs, sat on the floor and stared at her. If Ginny moved, Kitten fled up the stairs.

After several months of this behavior, Kitten finally came close enough for Ginny to scratch her neck, but it was always on Kitten's terms. If Ginny tried to pet her anywhere else, Kitten bit her.

By the third year, Kitten would occasionally jump up beside Ginny but run away if Ginny made the slightest movement.

In the fourth year, my son moved out. As I suspected years ago, Kitten would be mine. I was finally able to pet her. I'd come home from work and she'd sit by my feet and allow me to stroke her soft fur. When she had enough, she'd snip at me and then lay on the floor beside my foot.

I received a job offer in Boise, Idaho, which was three thousand miles from our home in Fort Lee, New Jersey. "Michael, what are we going to do with the cat?" Ginny asked. "You know what she's like. She'll never survive four days in the cab of the rental truck."

"I don't know, Gin, but I don't want to leave her." I frowned.

"Maybe I can find a no-kill shelter or someone willing to take her in."

"Come on, Gin! We can't do that!" I was near tears. "I know she's not the friendliest cat, but I can't leave her. We made a commitment when we adopted her."

"Well at least let me check around and see if I can find a home."

I finally agreed, but was not happy with the decision.

The pending move drew closer. Ginny couldn't find a shelter or a home for Kitten and began to panic. "Michael, she'll never make it."

"We'll see. She may surprise us." I was secretly very pleased. Kitten would move with us.

The day of the move arrived. The truck was loaded; the house was empty and Kitten hid. We found her in an empty closet upstairs. I picked her up, put her in her carrying box and took her to the truck.

Our son-in-law Nathan drove. Ginny sat in the middle. I sat on the passenger side with the "Kitten-in-a-box" on my lap. I decided to test her and opened the lid. Kitten sat up, looked out at the passing surroundings. She didn't seem upset at all.

Thirty minutes later she got out of the box and cowered under the seat for a few hours. Then it happened. She jumped on the seat between Ginny and I and went to sleep.

We couldn't believe it. After more than four years of practically shunning us, she was comfortable be beside us.

It was a turning point. When we arrived at our new home, Kitten was a new cat. She'd always lie between us. All it took was time and loving patience.

~ Michael T. Smith ~

Michael lives in Ohio with his wife Ginny and his stepdaughter's family. You can see a list of Mike's stories here: http://tinyurl.com/moud8u And you can get his stories emailed to you by signing up here: http://tinyurl.com/ldjruh  Let Michael know what you think of his story:  Michael T. Smith
[ by: Michael T. Smith Copyright © 2011, ( heartsandhumor@gmail.com ) -- {used with permission} ]

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