Caged, a curiosity for languid looking
Purring to deaf ears, playing to blind eyes,
After years, she curled in the corner.
Injected, tested, excised under gas,
Waking and groggy under bright lights
After years, she shrank from human touch.
Transferred to free-range and soft lights
Swirling tails and biting sleeps
After years, she curled in highest cubby
She heard me first, then watched me
Decided, she purred and played again
After years, someone heard and saw.
My poem today is about Dotty, the cat I adopted some months ago from the cat shelter I volunteer at. She was a stray picked up by another county’s animal control and was kept in a cage there after being neutered. She at one point tested positive for FIV (cat HIV equivalent.)
Most shelters immediately euthanize cats with FIV. The shelter I volunteer at is one of the few (only?) places in MI that takes them in. Their rep has grown to a point where if a shelter has an FIV cat they will call us and if there is room we will take them. We had room. In addition to taking in the usually “doomed” cats, our shelter is free-roaming in an old ranch home that’s been fitted with plentiful cubbies, high walkways, cat beds, and other places for cats to enjoy their cat-ness.
The first thing workers noticed is that the male cats were after her as if she wasn’t neutered and discovered whomever did the surgery had left one ovary in (or it grew back?) so she had to have a second surgery to remove it.
Part of my learning in my time at the shelter (I started in 2018) is that sometimes FIV goes away on its own. Cats with it and other communicable diseases are in a separate section of the shelter. They are tested regularly for health status and at one point she began testing negative. This meant she was able to be transferred to “gen pop” which greatly increased her chances of being adopted by a family.
Only she didn’t. Get adopted by a family, that is. Week after week I’d see her, curled in her tight little ball, not interacting with anyone. Week after week, I would talk with her, pet her lightly so as not to alarm, and hope it would bring her out of her shell.
One week she saw me, uncurled, began to meow, then rolled around in her cat bed. She’d been at our shelter for a year by then, which is a long time for an adoptable cat in gen pop to be. I decided then and there that she was coming home with me – but not before she did.
Grace is today’s host for dVerse’ Open Link Night.