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Time and Loving Patience

Story ID:7521
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell ID USA
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I wrote about Kitten many years ago. I updated it with our move to Idaho and plan to submit it to Chicken Soup for a new book they plan called "I Can't Believe my Cat did That"

Time and Loving Patience

She’s sits at my feet like a dog, as she always does, when I come home from
work. What a difference seven years made in this little girl’s life.

The small grey cat, with a white nose and neck, stared at my sixteen-year-old son
Justin through the bars of her cage at the animal shelter. She was the third cat he
inspected. Justin’s mom passed away four months before. He came home from school to
an empty house and begged me for a cat – something to love him.

“Her name is Kitten.” the lady said. “She’s two or three years old. Her owner was
an elderly lady who passed away. Her son tried to take her in, but his son was allergic to
cats, so she ended up here. I hope you can give her a home.”

She spilled it out like a car salesman
giving the description of a car.

I looked at Justin. “What do you think, son?”

“She’s pretty.”

“Yes she is. Do you want to take her home?”

He nodded, “Yeah, Dad. Let’s take her.”

The shelter gave us a cardboard carrying case. I bought a litter box, litter and
food. I didn’t want a cat, but my son needed her love. It was for him.

“If you have a spare room, put her in there with food, water and her litter box.
It will take time for her to adjust.” the lady said. “Go to the room, feed and spend time
with her. It won’t take long for her to trust you.”

Kitten came home with us. I filled her dishes with food and water and poured
litter into her litter box.

I opened her carrier, “OK, Kitten. Are you ready?” She stared back at me. Her
eyes were dark and evil with fear and doubt. “Come on little girl.” I coaxed.

She hissed, jumped from the carrier and hid behind my computer desk. “Here,
Kitten.” I reached for her. Her head shot forward. She bit my hand, drawing blood.

I pulled my hand back and looked at the punctures. “You little …”

She stared defiantly at me, as I pulled a Kleenex from my pocket and held it
to my wound. “Fine, Kitten! You can stay there.”

My computer was in the room, so I spent a lot of time there. Kitten hid in the closet when I was there, but two days later, I walked into her room. She came from
behind the desk, rubbed against my legs with her tail held high, and allowed me to pet

Later that day, Justin called me. “Dad, I came home from school and Kitten came
right to me. She’s in my room now.”

I smiled. They had each other.

Kitten latched onto my son and not me. She sat in the door of his room and hissed
or growled at me when I walked by. For two years she only left his room for her food or
to use her litter box.

She began to get brave and come down the stairs, but only when my son was
home. If he wasn’t home, she’d sit half way down the stairs. When I walked by, she’d
hiss, reach through the rails, swat me in the arm and run back up the stairs.

My wife Ginny was home during the day. When it was quiet, Kitten came down
the stairs, sat on the floor and stared at her. If Ginny moved, Kitten fled up the stairs.
After several months of this behavior, Kitten finally came close enough for Ginny to
scratch her neck, but it was always on Kitten’s terms. If Ginny tried to pet her anywhere else, Kitten bit her.

By the third year, Kitten would occasionally jump up beside Ginny but run away if Ginny made the slightest movement.

In the fourth year, my son moved out. As I suspected years ago, Kitten would be
mine. I was finally able to pet her. I’d come home from work and she’d sit by my feet
and allow me to stroke her soft fur. When she had enough, she’d snip at me and then lay
on the floor beside my foot.

I received a job offer in Boise, Idaho, which was three thousand miles from our
home in Fort Lee, New Jersey. “Michael, what are we going to do with the cat?” Ginny
asked. “You know what she’s like. She’ll never survive four days in the cab of the rental

“I don’t know, Gin, but I don’t want to leave her.” I frowned.

“Maybe I can find a no-kill shelter or someone willing to take her in.”

“Come on, Gin! We can’t do that!” I was near tears. “I know she’s not the
friendliest cat, but I can’t leave her. We made a commitment when we adopted her.”

“Well at least let me check around and see if I can find a home.”

I finally agreed, but was not happy with the decision.

The pending move drew closer. Ginny
couldn’t find a shelter or a home for Kitten
and began to panic. “Michael, she’ll never make it.”

“We’ll see. She may surprise us.” I was secretly very pleased. Kitten would move
with us.

The day of the move arrived. The truck was loaded; the house was empty and
Kitten hid. We found her in an empty closet upstairs. I picked her up, put her in her
carrying box and took her to the truck.

Our son-in-law Nathan drove. Ginny sat in the middle. I sat on the passenger side
with the “Kitten-in-a-box” on my lap. I decided to test her and opened the lid. Kitten sat
up, looked out at the passing surroundings. She didn’t seem upset at all.

Thirty minutes later she got out of the box and cowered under the seat for a few
hours. Then it happened. She jumped on the seat between Ginny and I and went to sleep.
We couldn’t believe it. After more than four years of practically shunning us, she was
comfortable be beside us.

It was a turning point. When we arrived at our new home, Kitten was a new cat.
She’d always lie between us. All it took was time and loving patience.

Michael T. Smith