Friday, March 22, 2013

Teddy Goes Teddina

Just three days ago, I discovered that my little Teddykins is not a boy, but a girl. I had suspected as much for a couple of weeks, but as you know, he’s a feral cat and it’s taken me months to get to the point where I can pet him and pick him up just long enough to place him in his box on the porch. Getting him to stay by me long enough to actually see his nether regions required the help of Phil’s daughter Angela. I talked to him and petted him while she stayed a few feet away from the back of him. Or her, I guess I should say.

So, we had scheduled the girly kitties of the Baker’s Dozen to be spayed at a Humane Society clinic in the area. The night before was when we discovered Teddy is really a Teddina. We set in place a plan for me to get him into one of the cat carriers the morning of the Great Spaying of 2013, and that morning I did manage, after 10 minutes, to get Teddy into the carrier. All told, we now had six cats going in for the procedure.

I could tell he wasn't thrilled with this, and honestly, I felt like I had betrayed his trust, that trust that was so hard earned. But the fact is, this had to be done. We have the Baker’s Dozen because Lucy hadn’t gotten spayed. No, we’re not responsible to do this with Teddy, since he’s not technically our cat. But he’s the cat of my heart. And not getting him spayed would mean even more cats out there. I’m sure you can imagine the potential for exponential propagation. 

Well, my sweet little Teddy went to get spayed Thursday, and yesterday he was brought home, and we had been told not to let him out, as some neighbor cat may try to mate, and rip his stitches out. Ouch! 

I know, he‘s a "she," but I'm so used to calling him "he," and besides, growing up we had a girl dog named Michael. Eh, I’ll have to ask my mom for the details, but I think she and Dad had spoken for a boy dog and already named it, and it turned out they got a girl? Something like that, and they just kept the name they had chosen. 

When Teddy came home yesterday morning, I took him into my room and let him out. Being a stray outside cat, he was petrified and ran to the most cluttered part of the room to hide. I expected this. I figured he'd be so scared that he'd just want to get alone, and he did. 

Eventually we could hear him purring, and Phil said Teddy’s motor was running. The funny thing is, Teddy’s “motor” sounds so rough, kind of like an engine that’s seen more than 200,000 miles on it. ;) It really does. And that’s just so like Teddy, my little rough tough cocoa puff, to have a gruff sounding purr. 

After a while, there was silence. I knew Teddy was sleeping. The clinic had given him pain medication that was supposed to last a couple of days, from what I heard. So I figured he’d sleep it off, and thankfully so. I don’t want to think of him being in pain. 

By nighttime, though, I was starting to worry. I had talked to Teddy all during the day, just like I had when he was outside and would show up for food, and, more recently, for my attention and affection. But since there was no response, I felt at times that I was talking to the wind. I even imagined that maybe he had somehow snuck out of the room and wasn’t even in there, careful though I was, and maybe I had been talking to myself. ;)

But around 9:00 p.m., when I stood at the end of my bed and talked to him again, holding a small bowl of kibble, which I shook to let him know by the familiar sound that I had food for him, Teddy slowly came out from behind the night stand. He looked at me for a few seconds, and then, as I held the bowl of kibble out on the bed, he jumped up onto the bed. 

But just as quickly, as I moved to set the bowl down for him, he got scared and jumped back down, running away again. Hiding from me. And that’s when I knew. Teddy and I had taken a step backwards. A giant step backwards. My heart lurched. Teddy and I had lost the trust we had gained in all the months prior to Thursday. We were like strangers who had just met. And I felt like crying.

All the ground I had gained working with him, over all those months, trying to get him to understand that I was not a threat to him, seemed for naught. He had retreated into the shadows of the area behind Phil’s bedside table, and my heart was left desolate. 

I set the little bowl full of kibble on the bed and  sat down in the bed. I talked to Teddy as I had all day; as I had each time I had gone out on the porch where he waited for me, meowing in his special rough tough cocoa puff way. But Teddy wasn’t having any of it. He backed away, and I tried to understand. 

My heart was breaking, but I tried to see things through Teddy’s eyes. He had been living in a world that had been very harsh to him. And just as he had begun to trust a human who showed nothing but careful love to him, he was pushed into a cage and had strangers handle him and eventually, he woke up in pain. Caused by humans he had barely begun to understand and trust.

So here I am, sitting in bed talking to Teddy, the sweet kitty-cat of my heart, wishing he’d heed my wishes and come out to eat the food I offer him. He’s scared. I get it; he’s too scared now, and I don’t know what’s going to happen with out fractured relationship. My heart hurts because of this, but at the same time, I can’t give up. I've invested too much into this relationship with this stray little cat, to give up now. No matter that we seem to have taken two steps back, I’m going to press forward. I love him too much. I simply love my little Teddy too much. 

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