A few short weeks ago I took on the adventure of socializing a ten-week-old feral kitten, Chili. He taught me more than I ever expected. Here’s a brief run down of my light bulb moments.
- Chili is a cat, not a human. Listen to the cat and let him be a cat while you help him learn to trust a few humans.
- It takes a lot of time and a lot of one-on-one attention to make the smallest bit of progress.
- Celebrate the small steps or you’ll lose your mind. Hurray, Chili didn’t hide under his blanket when I entered the room. He peed in the litter box! He didn’t spit today! He rubbed his head against my sneaker. He purred. He sat on my lap! He gave me a kiss, and I didn’t have tuna on my hands. He ran to greet me and did figure eight’s around my feet.
- Food is the way to a cat’s heart… a little food builds a lot of trust. Probably true for humans too.
- Giving Chili more open space AFTER he was secure in his closer surroundings was the right thing to do. I gave him access to a secured spot in my studio and held my breath that he wouldn’t go hide or freak out. He did fine; I needed a drink.
- Time seemed to slow down while working on socializing Chili. I sat on the floor with him, had all types of conversations, yes, I even sang. No rushing, just slow, and steady consistency and love. It felt good.
- Quiet time with him on my lap, purring, giving a few kisses was better than any product I could have purchased… any “thing” within or beyond my grasp.
- Separation and good byes have never been my strong suit. At first I was incredibly conflicted because my goal was to socialize Chili and enable him to be adopted by a loving new family; yet, that meant letting him go. Ugh, this is like parenting…But somehow it clicked that Chili was ready for his next adventure, and I’d be able to be happy about it. He was ready, I could learn something here.
- On adoption day at the shelter, a dad and his daughter came looking for a kitten to fall in love with. Chili settled very comfortably in the little girl’s lap. It was love at first sight. Yes, I teared up a bit, but I wasn’t sad. I was part of the process, and it was very good for both Chili and myself. I’d do it again in a heartbeat!