Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong (shadesong) wrote,
Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong
shadesong

I had to learn to love my cat.

We got Bash on my birthday. Tor had passed away just a few weeks before, and no one was really ready for a new cat, but Max was terribly, horribly, lonely... crying every night. So we went to the shelter and got him a brother. See here for Bash's origin story! And go to Facebook for more pics.

I bonded with Max right away, but I've always had a warm-up period with other cats, where I've liked them okay but haven't felt a huge connection immediately. Maybe because Max is SO my cat. Not enough room for others. So the people who spent the most time with Bash were Elayna and Judah.

People who were around during Bash's first 3-4 months with us know that he was a difficult cat, prone to attacking. Clamping onto people with jaws and claws. I despaired of him at times. And Judah would rile him up. Playing rough, encouraging him to bite and attack. He thought it was funny. Me, I didn't like Attack Cat mode. I got him to be gentle with me most of the time. Elayna did the same.

Then all the shit with Judah went down, et cetera.

And so here's Bash, who I like but am wary of because any gentle touch can result in a) purring and headbutts or b) him biting my damn face.

And here's an impending visit from michaeldthomas, rarelylynne, and their daughter Caitlin.

Caitlin has a condition called Aicardi Syndrome. If that sounds familiar, perhaps you remember it from jimhines's Aicardi Syndrome fundraiser in which he did terrible cover poses for a good cause, partially inspired by Caitlin! (There's a pic of Cait on that page.)

The thing about Caitlin that's particularly relevant to this story is that she's most comfortable resting on the floor, and she doesn't have excellent control of her body movements.

Which meant that if Bash pounced her? She'd be defenseless.

So I had to launch into an aggressive Bash-socialization program. I work from home, so I was able to continue working with him throughout the day. I would give him love and affection - but withdraw it instantly if he swiped or bit, with a firm NO, and didn't give him affection again for a while. I walked the line of petting him until *before* he'd had enough. We learned each other. Gradually, he learned how to signal that he was done in nonviolent ways. I started to be comfortable lying down with him. I would text Michael - "He let me spoon him today." (Bash is large.) "He discovered the couch!" "I kissed him on the forehead and he didn't bite."

And... he adopted me. He started following me around, curling up on my bed, asking for pettings.

And I found myself able to scoop him up and carry him around, and he deigned to sit next to me on the couch, and he has even submitted to actual snuggles.

Fast forward to the Thomas's arrival, where they found a fluffball so sweet that I think Lynne still doesn't believe the horror stories. He liked Michael just fine, but he adored Lynne. Lynne took over the #1 human spot while she was here. :) He even let her trim his claws - he was a squirming mrowling demon seed back when Judah tried, but with Lynne? Only slightly unsettled.

I introduced him and Max to Caitlin very carefully. Cait startles cats; her arm movements are irregular, unpredictable, and cats seem to have a hard time with that. They both did very well with her, though neither lingered long.

And then, on their last day, when almost everything was loaded into the car, we looked over to see Bash on Cait's blanket with her. Just standing there, eyes on her. Calm. Being petted by Cait.

Only cat ever, say Michael and Lynne.

Wow.

We don't know much about Bash's previous home. We were told he lived with a dog, but we were also told he was 12 (he acts 6) and that he likes balls (complete indifference). Things we have discovered through living with him: He had never before encountered stairs. He had not been allowed on couches.

And we think he was in a not-good home. We think people, and maybe other animals, were aggressive with him, and Judah's behavior continued that thread.

Because this, finally, is the real Bash. The Bash who will actually sit in my lap, who follows his humans around and curls up close to them, who is sweet to tiny humans. This is Bash when he feels safe and knows he's loved.

He's been curled up under my desk, by my feet, the whole time I've been typing. That's new, too. The couch is new, under the desk is new, the bookshelf with its nest of shawls is new.

It's been a hard year. So it took a while. But Bash is my cat now. And I love him so.
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