Story and photograph by Nancy Malcolm
“I’m a dog person”, I told my husband. “We don’t have time to take care of her”, I added. But, in the quiet, early morning 11 years ago, when this tiny ball of black fir wandered into our garage, I saw the way he picked her up and kissed her little head, and I knew……
How can you not name a little black kitten, “Blackie”? To soften it up a bit, I called her Blackie Marie. She needed softening. We combed the neighborhood looking for a mother cat or maybe more kittens, but, she appeared to be a loner. Barely a few weeks old, if that, hungry, crying and a visibly bent tail, she became ours. The vet would later tell us she had obviously had a hard life before we even met her and that a trauma had caused the broken tail. Our Blackie was a fighter.
We nursed her back to health and began the challenge of integrating her into our work schedules and into the routine of our daughters’ large, sweet dog who was living with us at the time.
We quickly discovered that Blackie Marie is very opinionated, kind of selfish and always temperamental. My husband constantly takes up for her, reminding me that she is rough around the edges because of her weeks on the street. “She can’t be reformed until she feels safe”, he told me. “Until SHE feels safe”? “Really, Boo”? I started to challenge, “the dog already sleeps with one eye open”.
Now, what I am about to tell you is the truth and nothing but the truth. We began to put Blackie’s food up on the dryer so the dog would not eat it. Makes sense, right? But then, my husband brought a small ladder into the laundry room so Blackie could learn to climb up instead of trying to jump. After a few weeks of trying to do laundry with a ladder in the way, our feeding solution quickly morphed into us picking her up and putting her on the dryer….every time she ate. Now, mind you, she does jump off by herself, but still to this day, we pick her up.
What really sealed the deal for me was when my husband told me I wasn’t doing it right. “You need to pick her up and then she likes to be petted and scratched for awhile before she eats.” I then heard him say, “isn’t that right precious whecious”?
It has taken me 11 years to become a cat person. I didn’t know cats were so different from dogs. I didn’t know she would want to go out the back door and come in the front door….all day long. I didn’t know she would only want to be petted when she was in the mood. I didn’t know a big dog could be trained by a cat in only one week. And I didn’t know I would love her like I do and buy silly things like a magnet that says, “Have you hugged your cat today?”
Our Blackie Marie is not feeling very well lately. In her 11 years with us, she has never been ill, like she is now. But, we continue to love her and pick her up when she wants to eat. We are now giving her daily medicines and watching her very carefully. We want her to feel as loved and safe as she always has, and I think she does.
If love is the silent song the heart sings, then our hearts are in harmony with hers. You just never know what tiny piece of love will enter your heart, or your garage, if you are willing.