I made some bacon this morning while I was waiting for my husband to return home from visiting his mother. He had asked if I would make some eggs and such for breakfast when he got back, so I decided to get the bacon cooked and ready to go because it usually takes the longest to make. When it was all ready, I took a piece out to the deck, where Bad Boy was resting on the bench.
Bad Boy is a feral male cat and he used to be rather ferocious. He would hiss, growl and spit and you couldn’t get near him. I trapped him finally and had him neutered. Now he spends his days close by and comes running when I call his name. I brush him and feed him treats and he in turn shows me his own kind of affection by bonking me with his head and purring.
But he is still very feral.
The first small piece I pulled from the strip of bacon and held to his nose, he sniffed and mewed and got excited, but he wouldn’t immediately take it from my hand. He kept looking up to me as if to say, “Okay, I like the way that smells, but I still don’t really trust you.” So I gently placed the piece of bacon on the deck in front of him and he ate it.
The next piece I held for him to take, he took it right from my fingertips. He doesn’t have that greedy snatch either. He is very careful not to bite me or scare me when he’s taking the treat this way.
I guess you could say that in proving to him that I was actually giving him something I knew he would enjoy, I earned a certain level of trust from him. And since he lives in a wild world, he was showing me that I could trust him too by being slow and gentle when he was eating right from my hand.
When you prove to someone that you have their best interest and comfort in mind by sharing some part of your own world with them, you always hope they will be gentle with what they take from you. We all hope that in sharing with others that might not trust us, we show them that it’s okay not to jump right into something they aren’t sure of, but once we demonstrate that we mean well, they should in turn show us some kindness with how they treat us.
The problem is that a feral cat is much better at this than most human beings are.
Several instances have happened over the past few months that have me wondering about a few folks that I put my own faith in. It is disheartening to think they can take so much from us and give absolutely nothing back except betrayal and absence and undeserved judgements. All I can do is shake my head in sadness.
When you can see a small glimmer of good in someone, that is what you move towards. I do not believe that the darkness in anyone is what attracts us at all. It is that light of hope that brings us closer to them and motivates us to open up and to share our lives.
It’s the same with a feral cat.
No one likes a cat that hisses, growls and spits at us. We don’t want to be close to that at all! It’s scary and you think about being hurt, scratched and bleeding and possibly needing rabies treatments! When that horrifying feral cat comes close to you, you freeze and think about your escape plan. You aren’t wondering about feeding this creature with your hand. You might throw some food a far distance away from you in hopes that they follow it so you can get away unharmed though.
A day or two after I had Bad Boy neutered and had brought him home from the vet, I released him back into the wild. I didn’t think I would ever see him again. A few days later when I walked into the feeding area one morning to feed the other feral cats, he was in there. It’s a closed in area and I had shut the door behind me as usual. And there he was, staring right back at me. I froze. Thoughts of this powerfully wild cat leaping in the air and ripping out my jugular were the only things I could think.
Then he started crying loudly.
I was backing towards the closed door when he ran towards me and I confess that I did yelp. But he did something I wasn’t expecting. He slowly started winding around my legs in a show of love. He knew I was there to feed him breakfast and he was glad to see me.
Since that day I have gravitated towards that glimmer of good I see in this cat and everyday he has proven to me that he can be loving and sweet.
That’s the best any of us can do in life and with other people. We can always dance our way close to that glimmer and we can always hope for the best and that is to have this glimmer returned to us and shared with us without those feelings of mistrust. No one is perfect and sometimes we all slip up and snuff out our glimmers. But it only takes a small spark to reignite it.
I hope that no matter where you are, or who you are, that you know that I do believe you have a glimmer of good in you. I believe we all do. I hope one day that even one of us can behave with the give and take, with the trust and hope, that is so much more apparent in a wild creature than in most of the domestic ones I already know.