In Hindsight, I told the story of my first experience with dog rescue and the case that started it all. While that is true, of dogs, my first rescue was Natasha.
I stole Natasha. She lived next door to my little studio apartment, had just given birth and was so malnourished that she would eat garbage and regurgitate it to feed her kittens. It took a couple of days to convince her that I would not hurt her and that there were no strings to the food I offered. A few days after that, I was bottle feeding her two remaining kittens (Blondie and Dagwood) and feeding her just outside my door because she would not come in even though she was vigilant in watching me with her babies.
The four of us were a little family at a time that is (not so) affectionately known as the “dark times”. Natasha was feral. She would not come inside, even though her babies slept in my bed and were very domesticated. She would not let me pick her up or pet her. She stayed – and I depended on her staying.
We trusted each other.
When my ex and I moved in together and got married, the cats had to become inside cats. We didn’t know how she would adjust. She still had no use for me, though she adored my ex-husband. I couldn’t pick her up, and she would curl up on his lap for hours at a time.
I had a very regimented schedule – I took bus and BART to work. She would pace and howl if I was not home within minutes of my “normal” time. When I walked in, she would give me a hard stare and then go about ignoring me.
Natasha outlived both Blondie and Dagwood, had to adjust when we brought home two more kittens and then, eventually, dogs. We believe she was about 14 when she died. In the 13 years she lived with me, I can count on my fingers (with spares) how many time she willing let me pet her, pick her up or give her affection. And yet, we could set our clocks by each other and I missed her horribly when she was gone.
I learned so much from her. I don’t even know where to start with the lessons.
I learned that trust is a strange concept. We depended on each other, drew strength from each other and we didn’t like each other very much.
I learned that you can stay completely true to yourself – even your own weirdness. She never changed who and what she was – a little crazy and a lot feral.
I learned that you never know where your inspiration will come from. That crazy, feral cat was the only reason I had to get out of bed and go to work some days. If I didn’t go to work, I would not get a paycheck and if I didn’t get a paycheck, I couldn’t buy cat food.
And, finally, whether you are a crazy cat lady or a crazy dog lady, a little crazy and a lot of feral can make all the difference in the world!