Kitty Consent

August 28, 2021

    As a volunteer for Country Cat Lady, I’ve been sharing updates about my adventures socializing unfriendly cats. Earlier this summer, I told the tales of my first foster kitty, Laura, who has since been placed in a forever home where she is reportedly doing very well. My second kitty Moana has been with me six weeks. Progress is slow, but rewarding. 

         Having learned my lesson from Laura,  I blocked the hiding place behind the file cabinet. I thought if I could reach Moana we could become friends more easily.  But as soon as I would reach out a hand toward her,  Moana would run away so haphazardly that I feared for her safety as well as mine. I decided to stop trying to pet her. If I have a right to deny someone’s touch,  doesn’t Moana deserve the same right of consent?
          So even though we hadn’t made friends, I decided after three weeks to let Moana out of the office to roam our house. She hid under the bed a lot at first, then at night she would explore the house playing with yarn balls in the living room. Surprisingly, I never found her getting up on any furniture.  She would hide under the sofa and watch me watch TV but never get up on the sofa or my bed.
          After a while, Moana no longer seemed to feel the need to hide. She would spend her days on the bedroom floor in front of my sliding door and watch the birds on the deck. She would curl up on the carpet next to my abandoned shoes and play with the dangling laces.  But occasional attempts to touch her were still shunned. 
          She started following me to the bathroom first thing in the morning, but she would always stay out of reach. She was clearly trying to communicate with me. She would rub against the door frames and furniture but if I responded by reaching out, she would run. 
          The other morning we were chatting in the bathroom. She was just out of reach, rubbing against the wall, but she had a thoughtful look in her eyes. Slowly she stepped closer, rubbed against my leg cautiously, and then ran back to the wall. She repeated the move and I told her how nice it felt for her to rub my leg. The third time she rubbed my leg I responded by scratching her head and she seemed to accept my touch. She didn’t linger but she didn’t run either.   
          This is our dance of detent. Little moves on each side, closer and closer, until trust is built.