The Early Years:
Cindy was neither purchased nor found at our doorstep searching for a new home. She was adopted through a network of cat specialists who make it their business to rescue and relocate feral cats. Only those showing promising potential are adopted out, the others are treated and released. As a kitten, Cindy spent her time struggling to survive in Point Loma, California, moving from dumpster to trash pail searching for her next meal. It was in Point Loma where this small group of cat lovers rescued Cindy and the search for her new family began.
From a feral kitten's perspective, this probably seemed like the beginning of the end. What begins as another chapter of nightmares is a human style bath, complete physical, vaccinations, and the unavoidable spay. The tradeoff is a warm, safe place to play and sleep and a steady diet.
In my feverish attempt to locate a kitten for Liz, I was introduced to a member of this network, who shall remain anonymous, and arranged a meeting. This would be the first of several meetings to determine if Liz and I would be suitable candidates for adopting a member of their family. If first impressions count for anything, I knew this meeting would be off to a smashing success. I arrived at the door of a retired couple after driving forty miles in pouring rain on my motorcycle. Standing in the hallway of their apartment building, holding my helmet under one arm and soggy raingear over the other, I was sure to win their admiration and affection.
In spite of my physical appearance, I was ushered inside the small apartment and introduced to no less than a half dozen adult cats, none of which I could adopt because these were permanent residents. After all the introductions and paw shaking, I was taken into another room, handed a flashlight and directed to look under the bed. In the far corner, nearly out of arms reach, was a small black cat that was ready for adoption if the right family could be found. I put down the flashlight and reached under the bed expecting to pull back a bloody stump. Before I knew it, I was holding a small black cat too frightened to resist. She just lay in my arms, staring back with her beautiful emerald eyes. I placed her on the bed and quickly inspected her from head to tail and released her under the bed. I knew immediately this would be the cat for Liz.
The Formative Years:
After several subsequent meetings, the trial and adjustment period began. It was at this time when Cindy received her name, given to her by Liz, because it was a true Cinderella experience. Cindy was introduced to her new home shortly after Gus arrived. She had no problem accepting Gus, who at this time was only a tiny kitten. Our best estimate put Cindy's age around one year, perhaps more, so we were never really able to fully appreciate her as a kitten.
The first six months of the adoption process went slowly, and there were often times when I wondered if Cindy would ever escape the nightmare of her past and learn the accept and trust us. While we were away from the house, she would come out for her meals and take care of business. When we returned home she would escape to the safety of the cubicles that formed a pedestal for our bed. Eliminating her hiding spot became a routine known as "breaking down the bed", leaving her no choice but to spend time with us in an open room. Eventually, this routine paid off and Cindy began to accept and trust us and was slowly permitted access to other rooms in the house.
Before long she was granted full access to the house, which she shared with us, her sole feline companion Gus, and two cockatiels. There was no hiding the truth that Cindy's horrid past would always hinder her social development. When a visitor came to the house she would immediately revert back to her old ways, escaping to a safe haven and reappearing hours after the visitor has departed.
The Mature Years:As a full grown healthy female cat, the only woe in Cindy's life turns out to be her sole feline housemate, Gus. Now more than twice her size and weight, Gus has been known to attack Cindy with little fear of retribution for his evil action. Sometimes it begins simply enough as mutual play that quickly gets out of hand. Other times he will quietly lay an ambush attack, waiting for her to innocently walk by. One such attack resulted in amputation of Cindy's long slender tail, leaving only a three inch stub.
Cindy has three primary hiding spots strategically situated around the house. Her favorite spot is on top of the television set in our bedroom, where she can camouflage herself in the dark space between the TV and armoire cabinet. In the world of felines, Cindy is the antithesis of Gus. She is agile, gentle and capable of leaping with pinpoint accuracy. Gus, on the other hand, is incapable of displaying those characteristics. He is not able to negotiate the landing zone for accessing this hideout, and to Cindy's good fortune this is the only spot in the house where she can escape completely protected from Gus' brutal behavior.
Her second favorite spot is behind the TV console in the family room. Here she is able to defend herself among the myriad of cable runs and narrow access ports, able to catch quick catnaps and come and go with ease. Gus has found the single major drawback to this location and exploits it at every opportunity. He simply approaches from the top of the television and drops down on her with no warning. I have witnessed this personally, and no one will ever convince me that cats do not have the gift of coherent thought process. Her third hideout is behind the kitchen counter on the window sill. With her head barely exposed at one end, she can rest in the sunbeam with little chance of an undetected attack.
We are very to fortunate for the way Cindy developed socially. While she may still run and hide when a visitor comes to the door, she now waits long enough to see if she can recognize the person before deciding which hideout will suit her needs best. She still prefers not to be held but enjoys a good brushing and the gentle stroke of a hand. During the cooler months she will be the first to hop onto my lap while I'm relaxing on the couch or recliner and enjoy a catnap. We have surely been blessed with this wonderful animal.
The Senior Years:Cindy has reached the age of retirement and spends much of her time in the front bedroom since improvements have been made to the house interior. Rarely does she step past the doorway during the daytime but does venture out when the house is dark and silent in the early morning hours. Cindy slowly went deaf and has entered the early stages of renal failure, fortunately her vision is good and manages to get around the room in spite of advanced arthritis. She shares the front bedroom fulltime with Kiki and receives regular visits from Rusty, Misty and Booger.