Friday, March 4, 2022

When a Cat Learns to Love You.


It's been about a year and two months since Grendel became a permanent member of our family. A year and two months since we brought Grendel inside and got his broken leg fixed.  No regrets. 

He's a sweet. happy and loud boy. I don't mind when he yells at both two and five o'clock in the morning. Okay--I mind a little bit, but it sure beats staying up late worrying and keeping an ear open for him at the door. 

Freya used to hiss at him. He was always following her around, getting in her space. 

He bonded with Dan immediately, shouting for his attention and jumping on his desk. He would boop Dan's hands while he pet him, and Dan would call him Sweetie-Doodle and tell Grendel how happy he was that he was here. 

It was me Grendel wasn't quite sure of. He liked me well enough, but I hadn't earned his trust yet. I always seemed to startle him. I'd let him sniff my hand, and sometimes he would tolerate my petting. Sometimes I'd get a kiss. Sometimes he would back away from my touch. Dan was his rescuer and I was the human that lived with his rescuer. 

I tried to give him space, tried not to be too handsy. According to Jackson Galaxy, trust equals love to a cat, and trust takes time. I did my best to learn what Grendel needed. When he sat at the window, I opened it for him so he could smell outside. When he cried and paced at two in the morning, I learned that a small snack would calm him down. If he ran around the house trilling, it meant he was bored and he wanted to play, so we learned what he liked to play with. 

His favorite toys are the green ball that dispenses crunchy treats if he rolls it right. He loves to stalk and pounce on Mr. Bug, a pink spider on a string. Dan puts the string under his shoe and drags it around the kitchen table.

I have a close friend who trapped three feral cats from her garage eight years ago. She brought them in because she was sure they'd never survive the dropping temperatures. She told me it took years to earn their trust.  They are Mama, (RIP)  Baby and Lookie. Mama eventually became a friendly cat to other humans, but Lookie still hides from company and I can count on one hand how many times I've seen Baby. 

My friend told me some cats never warm up to humans, and maybe Grendel might not accept me. I was okay with that. I knew he got along well with Dan--they make each other so happy-- and now that she feels better, Freya has started playing Chase with him. That might just have to be enough and that was okay. I love him anyway.

But something happened yesterday. It was like a flipped switch. Grendel jumped up on my desk and chirped at me and looked me in the eye. That was a surprise. He never jumps on my desk, only Dan's. I said, "Hello, Sweet Boy."  I extended my hand to him and he rubbed his face all over my fingers. I pet his nose and head and he leaned into it hard.  He let me cradle his face in the palm of my hand. I tried not to get too excited. 

But this was a new day. I opened a window for him and together we looked out at Squirrel and Bird TV.  When I looked over at him, he leaned in and booped me. I was so delighted, I kissed his nose. I worried that I may have offended him, but he didn't seem to mind. I decided not to push my luck and let him be. 

Later that night, Dan and I were sitting on the couch. Grendel jumped into Dan's lap and asked for love. It's not the first time he's jumped into Dan's lap, but it's the first time he's done it while I was sitting there too. Dan stroked his ears and I reached out and hoped my affection would be accepted. Grendel responded by purring louder than I've ever heard him and nuzzling into both of our hands. 

I'm writing this because I need to tell you, in that moment it felt like our family was whole again. For the first time since we lost Spartacus, I felt like our little family was complete and at peace.  I was hoping Grendel would eventually love me, and now I believe that he does. 

When he grew tired of Cuddletime, he crawled up on Freya's towel and fell asleep next to her, and I snapped that picture. I think he understands now that he truly belongs here and he knows how much he is loved by all of us. 

The world has become a comic book, but I have a corner of happiness.  It's a fantastic feeling that I thought I'd share. The world feels just a little brighter, just because I've earned the love of a cat. 

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