My foster cat Dickens let me pick him up the other day.
On the surface, that doesn’t seem like a big deal. Many cats like to be held, and others, while they don’t appreciate it, will let you pick them up.
Dickens only let me hold him for about two seconds, but this was a milestone for him. He’s been a foster cat in my house since the end of March. The first few nights, he hid in my closet. Sometimes, even now, he’ll run away if you walk toward him or look at him funny.
So the fact that he rubbed against my leg and let me handle him is huge. HUGE. So is his new tendency to come around looking for love while I am working at my desk. Pet his back for a few seconds, and he’ll roll over so you can rub his belly. He’s got a loud purr.
I have no training in animal behavior, and I am no expert on cats. I’ve been a rescue volunteer for almost a year now and a cat owner since my parents adopted a cat in 1988. I got the first cat of my own (Fiona!) in graduate school in 1999. I’ve learned one important lesson about cats: They need to come around on their own terms and timeline, not ours.
We’ve tried hard to be patient with Dickens. We pet him when he comes around for affection, and we’ve learned that quiet, small movements work best. Occasionally, I’ll test his comfort zone. Some days – like picking him up the other day – it works out great. Other times, he freaks out and runs away.
We give him a break and try again later. Patience.
Poor Dickens and his bonded brother Poe have been adopted out and returned twice by owners who expected them to be social and affectionate after just a day or two. They’ve come a long way since we took them in last spring. They’ll enter their forever home miles ahead of where they were.
I just hope the next person who promises to love them is patient. Their patience with these affectionate boys will be rewarded with kitty hugs and kisses.
Want to meet Dickens and Poe? Contact Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland to learn more about them and to set up a meet and greet.