When the student is ready, the cat will appear. In my case, on October 1, 2019, a 4 month old male kitten, Titi Snowth, showed up on my patio, hungry. I took pity and started feeding him once a day, promising myself I wouldn’t get too invested. I don’t usually feed wild animals. Two weeks, later, his sister showed up, tiny and really starving. I couldn’t turn her away, so she stayed around as well. By February, the siblings decided to become a couple.
Not having much prior experience with cats, and about to embark on a trip to Finland to visit my son, I did try my best to catch them and get them spayed and neutered before my trip…without success. They were both very feral and skittish. I decided I would take care of it when I got back, at which point, it was too late. Cuernelio was pregnant, and on April 2nd, I later found that she had delivered four healthy kittens, one boy and three girls, under a large water oak between the fences of my backyard and that of my next door neighbors. My dog, Ruby, finally found the hiding spot about two weeks later.
At seven months, Cuernelio was a fiercely devoted mother. She moved the four tiny kittens solo during the night as a massive thunder storm drenched our neighborhood, to a house I had readied for her on my porch. Unfortunately, she didn’t give birth on or under the porch deck, because a possum decided to experience its last moments in a body under that same porch just days before Cuernelio was due to give birth. It took me a while to figure out where the smell was originating and who was causing it, and to resolve the issue. Too late for the babies to be born in a convenient and safe spot.
But time and experience were to show me that Cuernelio is a highly independent, confident, and resourceful young woman in a very small cat’s body. She has her own ideas and timing on just about everything, and no one will convince her otherwise. So after just one night spent in the dry, clean, cozy house, she moved all four kittens yet again, across the street into a big patch of poison ivy. I guess she didn’t like me trying to peek through the little window, to admire her beautiful babies. Smart lady! I was not going to follow her in there!
Every day, multiple times each day, she would cross the street to my house, while I held my heart in my mouth, trying my best to know and trust she and the kittens would be fine. She has taught me so much about freedom and about trust…as well as about surrendering all thoughts of worry and the things that I don’t want to create. She has helped me to focus my intentions on the positive, and to let go of ego-based conditioned and controlling ideas centered in fear. Such a powerful master, this tiny cat! She is afraid of nothing. Not fireworks, not gunfire, not hawks, not reckless drivers in fast cars. Her confidence, ease, joy, and determination are nothing short of amazing!
One day, I just happened to be looking out my living room window, when I saw my then neighbor from across the street holding a shoe box and reaching into the patch of poison ivy. I ran out of the house to see the kittens as my neighbor and his roommates gathered around. They were about a month old at this point, and completely healthy and adorable! I had been leaving them free, outdoors, and with their mom in the poison ivy patch, because I knew they would be safe there. And now that they had been removed from the patch, they became my responsibility rather than free and sovereign beings in their mother’s care.
The subject of freedom is a tricky one. We, as human beings, have been conditioned in separation consciousness. This generally means that we often feel responsible for others but are rarely able to take full responsibility for ourselves and our own states of awareness and creation. While feral cats are wild animals in every respect, we humans tend to feel that all cats are pets and should be treated as such. Cats don’t see things the same way we do.
I am full of admiration for the adaptability, intelligence, independence, and curiosity of feral cats. They are amazingly adept predators, and very skilled at taking care of themselves. As both a human and as a mom, I began to struggle with multiple concepts around taking responsibility for these young feline lives as soon as other humans and their values intervened into my relationship with this feral family.
At first, I was completely at ease with all of them continuing to live outdoors and to just provide food and outdoor shelter for them. However, when I made contact with people who rescue, spay, neuter, and provide other services for cats, there were immediately a set of rules applied to how I needed to care for these animals. Suddenly, I had taken upon myself a much greater weight of responsibility than I had ever intended or indeed wished to carry. In order to get a bit of financial aid to get all four kittens spayed, neutered, vaccinated, I had to keep them all indoors. Some very kind and lovely people lent me a kitty condo. At first, Cuernelio and her kittens stayed in a dog crate on my front porch. It was very exhausting and tricky, because my dog, Ruby, is very reactive to Cuernelio.
Eventually, I had to get a wide pet gate between my kitchen and the living room, to keep Ruby away from the cats. At one point, she crashed through my big picture window in my living room, trying to get at Cuernelio. Miraculously, neither Ruby nor the kittens, who were in the condo directly on the other side of the window, were injured by the shattered glass.
Which brings me to my Marie Kondo and Cats epiphany. Since my son went away overseas to study in Finland in 2017, I have been very progressively working on decluttering my house. Letting go of all sorts of things. Trying to be less attached to material things, since things are an illusion anyway! Well, the cats have definitely accelerated this process of detachment by systematically breaking and destroying things inside my house. Ophiuchus has climbed my curtains and snagged them to shreds. He has torn my screens on the screen door, and has broken innumerable vases, pieces of pottery, and other collectibles, including some very sentimental mementos. My leather couch, that I have kept covered for years, is now shredded on the one area I couldn’t cover by Foofnelian’s claws, despite my investment in several cat trees equipped with scratching posts. My living room chair is equally shredded, and the cats created a nest/hiding place inside the seat. My wool living room rug is stained and damaged.
As time has gone by, I have learned to let go of the thingness of the things I have. By being reduced to shreds, I no longer need to worry about being attached to them. When it is time for me to move one day, it will be easy to discard these things. Detachment is an important high level spiritual skill. After compassion, and non-judgment, to be able to live free from attachment to things or to outcomes takes quite some practice! And, believe, me, cats are master teachers in this area!
I still have a ways to go, but my being adopted by cats has helped me to grow in so many ways and so many directions. All of many animals have taught me gratitude, and their loving presence has been so healing and encouraging during this last year and a half, though at times I thought I was going to lose my mind. Trying to adapt to all of the newly added tasks, I wonder why or how my newly empty nest suddenly came to be filled with felines?
Once Cuernelio was spayed (as were the four kittens, two of which were adopted by a friend and neighbor), Titi Snowth began to wander, in search of other females. He got into fights, and he is a small cat for a male. I began to worry about him. Then he was attacked and sustained a serious injury to his tail, which got infected. Titi is very shy and always has been. While Cuernelio is a friendly but independent soul who soon agreed to be petted and to come indoors at night, Titi was always reluctant to be touched. He will come sniff my hand and has even eaten treats held in my fingers, but he is still quite skittish.
It took me three weeks to get the help I needed to borrow a trap, catch him, and get him to a vet who agreed to see him without a prior appointment, since I wasn’t sure when I could trap him. After a month indoors and two rounds of antibiotics, the tail injury (it was broken and abscessed), began to heal. Titi spent an entire month in my extra bathroom, and he did remarkably well…after the first few nights. He escaped from a closed dog crate, which I put in the bathroom to help him feel safer… and ripped his paw on the crate door trying to get out. It was all very challenging and upsetting at times, but now he no longer wanders and seems very peaceful and pleased to spend time with his sister and to eat three meals a day!
It has taken quite some time to get to a place of harmony. Ruby still chases some of the cats, but she and Ophiuchus are mostly good buddies. Hopefully one day I can take down the pet gate. Time will tell! Titi comes and sits by the screen door outside, while his son and daughter talk to him. It’s very adorable. Cuernelio will only come inside when she is good and ready, and she lets me know when she is. Sometimes I go to bed, because I have to get up early for work, so she has to adapt to me too. She became very upset (in her own good-tempered way, by peeing and pooping in my hallway) when I tried to keep her inside or trick her into coming in, and it was also kind of exhausting for me. So now, I just trust that she will come in when she’s ready. We respect one another that way. And I agree to not worry about her. She is an adult woman and can take care of herself.
I refuse to listen to fearful talk by others on Nextdoor or other sources. People who love animals dearly unconsciously devote much energy to discussing fearful outcomes, predators, etc. Most people don’t realize that they create their experiences of reality based on their thoughts, intentions, words, emotions. Every single day, even multiple times each day, I charge my house, garden, pets, myself, my neighbors, their homes, pets, the trees and plants…and my entire neighborhood for a six mile radius with a beautiful protective ring of pure electronic Source energy. I send love and pure source light into everything and everyone I care about. Raising the frequency of these areas and beings. Knowing and declaring that only that which matches the frequency of Source, of the divine I AM presence can enter this ring of intentionally charged energy. This allows me to relax my mind and to focus on whatever tasks are at hand.