Quietly regarding me with large, green soulful eyes, Brooklyn stares me down at the doorway to the kitchen. Her cries are plaintive, she looks longingly at the other cats gathered around the food trays and cries again. Her meaning is clear; “I am a cat, I am not meant to be alone, let me out.” So while the others are occupied with eating, I slip back the bolt and open it a crack. If I am misreading her message, I want to be clear to her, this is her decision to join the crew, not mine. I step back.
She steps boldly into the kitchen and heads for the nearest food tray. Although she has eaten already, she ducks her head and gobbles the wet food. No one pays her any mind, which is part of my plan. I always introduce new cats and kittens during feeding time. This is how they come together in the wild, during feeding time. Where the Alphas feed first and the more submissive ones wait their turn. But here, there is plenty for all and she just blends into the carpet of colored cat fur and is lost among the masses.
The more time I spend with her, the more I understand her terror. She does not fear other cats, she fears humans. I know that fear well. I recognize the fight and courage she holds within that drives her on to her goal, to be part of a group and not singled out for punishment. For her, there is safety in numbers. She is a determined kitty, my Brooklyn holding inside all the terrors of the past. I walk carefully around her afraid to set off triggers.
Only when she approaches me am I allowed to touch her. The pets have to be brief. Lingering to long with her can cause problems. She acts really chill, but there is a warning just underneath that coolness.
Her attraction to me was immediate as if she sensed we were kindred spirits. She wears her scars inside, mine are hidden by well-placed shirts and jeans. The marks run haphazardly across my stomach and my back, making days of being at the beach in a two-piece, also a thing of the past. They are a freeway of harsh reminders when the clothes are removed and I stand in front of my mirror in the mornings.
The marks can be covered up cosmetically. Years ago, my best friend Jeri suggested I get tattoos. I declined. These marks remind me of a life long ago, when a young, naive woman ran off with a man, she was “certain” would love her forever. But forevers exist only in fairy tales and sometimes fairy tales turn into nightmares.
As I watch Brooklyn navigate through the clowder, skirting the ones she knows instinctively to be the Alphas and hissing to all the others, her message is being sent. “No one is going to mess with me ever again.” I know just how she feels.