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May 13, 2000 Saturday

Today is my 45th birthday and I got the best gift ever from Ms. Hiss! I let her be today. I fed her in the morning. Then Mike took me to breakfast, and when we came home, I did not check on her. I want her to start to feel like the room is her world and I only come in to do good things. In the afternoon when I went to feed, she was in the closet in her box. I was able to slowly withdraw her from her hidey-hole and she ate, but only a little bit, then she scooted out from under the towel and back inside her box.

She had only taken about 9 ccs of the cat food, and so I slowly reached in again, and extracted her. This time, when I held her, I stroked her with my fingers wrapped in the towel, so she could see that the towel was good and not evil. Then, as I was feeding her- and amazing event occurred. She reached out and grabbed my hand! I held my breath, praying to God that she would not bite me, and Hiss arched her head up and licked my finger! I was so stoked, I let her lick, and then I took my finger, dipped it in the cat food, held it up to her and she licked it again! Not wanting to push my luck, I withdrew from her closet and cracked the door.

I walked across the room to put some supplies away, and when I turned around, I saw her eyes peering through the slit in the door! It was like she was saying to me "Hey! Wait a minute- where'd you go?" Then, when she noticed that I noticed her, she vanished back into the darkness. I left her alone, figured I would treat this as if I hadn't noticed THIS LARGE STEP FORWARD! And still later in the evening, when I went upstairs, she was at first out of the box- and on the pillow- and then on the couch. PTL!

May 14, 2000 Sunday

Tomorrow, we will have had Ms. Hiss for one week. It has been a week of challenges, exhaustion, elation, and trials. So as Sunday draws to a close here is how the week looks to me: She came into our lives a spitting, hissing, scared ball of fluff. She tested my patience, and then tested me some more. She motivated me to see the world through her eyes, and asked of me something she has not had for a long time, a place to be safe. She hid her scared soul behind a formidable display of aggression. She charged me, if I came to her and invaded that personal space around her. She hissed and spat at everything in her way bluffing me to see how I would respond. She has gone from not eating or drinking at all, to being force-fed. Now she will eat out of my hand! She started out hiding underneath the sofa, then in the arm of the sofa, and then under the couch, to hiding in the closet during the day and seeking the underneath of the couch at night. She came in glaring, never once letting down her guard when I was in view. Watching me with a wide-mean stare, she has now dropped the anger, replacing it with a cautious and watchful gaze. Tonight, for the first time, I realized that when I am in her view now, she is not so much intent on watching my every move, her gaze now wanders, and I even caught a glimmer of a relaxed eye earlier this morning.

She is not hiding in her cardboard box anymore. She is either out in the room, or lying on her pillow inside the closet. She freaked out the first time I took a picture of her using a flash, now I swear she poses for the camera! It is so hot upstairs now, that Mike millerized the doorway to her room. He rigged a screen door of sorts for her. It consists of particleboard on the bottom, screwed into the wall, with a screen on the top to keep her in and give her air during the way. My old studio (where she is) turns into a sauna on a hot day. She now is not only eating out of my hand, not off the dish, but I have no doubt, once she really relaxes, that she will be eating just fine. It is just going to take more patience, which I seem to have plenty of. She is partial to the hymn- "Oh How I Love Jesus." She is mildly interested in a catnip mouse. She hates food spills on her beautiful chest, and will stop eating to look at me like: "Mom! You are so sloppy!" Then she will delicately lick off the offending particles and continue on only when she is sure that she got every drop! She dislikes any hand that arches over her head, and will duck and cower like she is trying to hide from the "bad hand." I have taken to just sit with her, I lay my hand near enough to her so she sees it, however; I won't move it from the spot, so she can see that hands do not always "hurt!"

Her throat will arch up when she is given water to drink. And she now insists on licking my fingertips after every meal. I think it is her way of saying thank you to me. I can really feel support and prayers when I am working with her- I know that is why she has come so far so fast. But now, it is time to mellow with her and not introduce her to anything newer than I already have. I still need her to eat on her own, for me, that is the next obstacle in the way. May we hurdle over it soon!

May 15, 2000 Monday

Noon feeding time and I was able to gently lift her out of her box barehanded! Every time I have gone to pet her, she will snake her head underneath my hand and move away. So this time, I raised my hand slightly over her head, but where she could still see it. At first she cowered, like she thought I would strike her, but she just lay there in a crouch intently staring at my hand. Because she was not restrained, although she was against one wall, she had every opportunity to flee. Slowly, inch by inch, I lowered my hand until it was right above her head and the hairs on top tickled me....still she waited....so I carefully laid my hand on her head, left it there- she did not flinch, move, hiss, nothing. So I started to pet her gently, always gently. After about a minute of head petting that she accepted, I decided to push my luck and see if she was a chin tickling fiend. I started rubbing her chin, and her neck arched out, so I moved to her face and did my magic spot rub- and oh my God, she leaned into me, she laid her head right in the palm of my hand! She was purring and bumping my hand over and over, then she walked right in front of me- I was followed her doing the magic rub- *G* and she moved against me with enough force for me to lose my grip and I wound up with my hand on her back, so I started rubbing her on her back. She started her purr motor loudly and she started head-bonking my arm!!!!!!!!!!

She showed me she has mastered Elevator Butt Maneuver (probably overnight) Then she laid down and rolled over- paws high in the air, but the minute I went to rub her belly, she leaped up and ran for the corner! (still purring) I might add!

Again with caution, I started rubbing that magic spot on her face, and she bent her nose and licked my hand!!!!!! I love this cat- she is totally amazing- and the power she has when she is learning to trust, and trying to grasp love is beyond description. I really feel prayers at work in that closet with us. The feeling goes away the minute I step away from her- but there is something at work here that is beyond defining. I feel the support of all the acme posters who are praying so hard for this wonderful cat.

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