Rescuing a cat from bad circumstances is a wonderful feeling. Rescues are supposed to have a happy ending. But we need to remember that the best we can do is maximize the cat's potential; we cannot change the intrinsic nature of the cat.
Puffy is actually coming out for play sessions lately. Not that he actually plays; not that he does it every time. But under the supervised encouragement of RJ, Puffy is being more social.
How far can he go? Probably not much farther.
Puffy is never going to be a ball of fire. He's not going to throw toys around, or greet me in the morning, or wrestle with RJ. That's not in his repertoire. Getting him over his shyness has always been a two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of progression. Dear Husband and I work on him all the time, figuring out what treats will bring him out of his lair, bringing him into the bedroom to cuddle with him on the bed, even though he only lasts a few minutes before he flees.
Without our constant encouragement, he wouldn't even have that. A Puffy ignored would be a Puffy invisible. As far as I know, and I got him pretty young, he was not mistreated. He's just that way.
On the considerable other hand, there's RJ, who could qualify as some experiment in deprivation. Skin and bones even after a month in the shelter, and he didn't know what a toy was when we got him. He's still a little off, but we couldn't ask for a sweeter, cuddlier, kitten. He's just that way.
Some cats, resilient and socialized, can bounce back from the most terrible of circumstances. Some cats, timid and fearful, don't have any background of abuse, yet act terribly traumatized. I've known cats to make a comeback from abuse, injury, or years of neglect on the street. Sometimes it's a matter of calming them down enough for their true personality to shine through. Sometimes it's creating a routine that gives them a sense of security. Sometimes it's as simple as making that soul-to-soul connection, right away, or over time, that reassures us both that this relationship will work out.
If we get the smallest glimmer from the cat, the slightest sign; there's hope. They can do it. They want to do it.
They just need our help.
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