It all started when I told my husband I was longing for cat fur – meaning that I wanted us to get a cat. His main objection was that cats claw furniture. So I let it go for awhile until one day I looked in our local newspaper and saw her. Featured as up for adoption by the local animal shelter, she was beautiful – and had been completely declawed. I called immediately and made an appointment for us to see her.
It was love at first sight! Just a year old, she was a fluffy, fetching little feline with an unfortunate history – she peed in the beds of the children that had owned her. The shelter’s veterinarian had determined that she had no physical issues that explained her peeing habit. Consequently, if she was not adopted or was adopted and returned because of her problem, she was destined to be destroyed.
She was called C.C., which stood for Classy Cat. Her former family included three children under the age of five, explaining why she had been declawed. It hit me immediately – she had been rendered defenseless as a kitten so her small tormentors could not be hurt by her, then discarded because she had registered her helpless dismay in unacceptable behavior.
I paid the $50 fee, took her home and spent the next two hours sitting with her on the floor of our bathroom telling her over and over and over, “It’s all right; you’re safe now.” I placed a cheetah patterned little kitty cave behind the toilet where she hid when I left. Returning every hour or two to love and reassure her, we bonded deeply. After a few days I left the bathroom door open so she could explore our office/family room. Later we let her explore everywhere. She never peed in our bed once, or anywhere else. She not only was fluffy and fetching, she was fastidiously clean. I decided she deserved more than initials for a name so she became CiCi, which suits her prrrrfectly.
Declawed and defenseless, she was destined to a life limited to being indoors. It wasn’t her choice; it was a consequence of her early life. She sat next to the open, screened patio door listening to the gentle song of wind chimes, watching little birds flit here and there in the trees, feeling the warmth and beckoning of summer and a life she was denied. And because of the life that I did not choose, because I too had been rendered defenseless at an early age, because I had found ways to defy barriers and limitations in order to rise from the ashes of my dreams – I knew that our fenced patio was to be CiCi’s Garden, her safe place.
Would she use her freedom to leap into a world that ultimately could destroy her? Would uninvited intruders enter her garden and harm her? It was a chance we would take carefully and prudently – together.