Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ariel, Lion of God

Oh how I love cats.  Their bright eyes.  Their purr that soothes any trouble.  Their ears soft as butterfly wings.

I am about to adopt my third cat.   She was listed on Lakeland Animal Shelter's website as Sweet Pea.  How apropos, I thought.  It was what I often called Cami, the silver girl whom I lost this past summer.  So the name caught my eye, but also it was her sweet face that lead me to visit the shelter and ask for her.

When she was brought out, she was all wrapped up like a turtle, legs and tail and head tucked under, quivering with fear.  Poor thing.  I was left alone with her in a private, yet loud office.  The sounds of barking and yelping and howling dogs surrounded the room.  The poor four-month-old kitten continued to hide within herself, laying perfectly still in my lap.  I talked gently to her, whispering affectionate words of protection.  I stroked her softly and let her huddle in the crook of my arm.  She may have been woken from a sleep. I do not know. But she was very quiet and uneasy.

I kept her for more than an hour, and in that time, she trusted me a fraction more.  She lifted her head to look around at the room, along with a few short-lived glances up at me.  Whenever a loud noise was heard in the rooms and halls around our room, she'd tuck her head back in and shiver.  And if I moved too closely to her to kiss her head or nuzzle her, she would wince and hide.  But eventually, she began to stretch out her body a bit, letting her leg dangle over the side of my lap and even purred.  When she kissed my hand several times I was in heaven and my heart ached to keep her.

I stuck my head out the top half of the door to tell the receptionist that I wanted her and then I proceeded to fill out the adoption application while I held her still in my lap.  She was so sweet, but so very scared.  I wasn't surprised.  Many cats become traumatized in a shelter setting.  Stuck in a cage all day, given little love or attention, the constant din of crying dogs and cats around them, sometimes not the cleanest of conditions, either. This particular shelter also had the incessant drone of the loudspeaker, someone calling for this or that pet to be brought up to the main office for a visitor.

The receptionist told me that this kitten had been brought in at the very young age of five weeks old, and had been there ever since.  She had become ill with an upper respiratory infection, as many kittens do in that setting, and she'd just recovered.  So three months in a cage.  How horrendous.  No, after that length of stay, the traumatized condition of this kitten didn't surprise me.

What did surprise me was this:  I went to the shelter expecting to find a kitty to fulfill my needs, and instead, I found a kitty whose needs I could fulfill.  I knew that I was there to bring her home, to make her life happy and safe.  To give her all the love she so deserved and had, thus far, been denied. As I held her, I felt all my maternal instincts firing at once.  I promised her that we belonged to each other now and that I would come back for her and bring her home.

I was told that she still needs to be spayed, and that they require it before adoption.  Her surgery is scheduled for this Thursday, and on Friday early afternoon I can take her home.

I've been back two more times since then to visit with her.  During those visits, she has blossomed; she's definitely shown me a new side to her personality.  I sit with her in a bigger room where her cage-mates are nearby (two other kitties her age).  And she plays boisterously, running and jumping.  Her energy seems to be inexhaustible.  A sure sign of health. It pleased me to see this.  She loves the freedom, though short-lived for now, to frolic about the room, playing with half a dozen toys I've brought for her.  She's afraid of my hand, though, and still afraid of my face getting too near her and doesn't want to be held any more.  I'm guessing it's because of her desire to play and run but also from her deep-seated fear of humans and her poor experiences with them.

I cannot wait to bring her home and give her everything she needs and deserves.  Friday cannot come too soon.  In the meantime, I've prepared a room for her at home where she can initially live and get her bearings.  I am thinking of keeping her in that room for several days and up to a week to let her adapt to the smells and sounds of my other two cats outside the door.  And they to adapt to her, all at a safe distance.

And I've spent time thinking of her new name.  Though I love Sweet Pea, I also call my other kitties by that name now.  I considered several names, Skye, Nespar, Besa, Luna, Feliz... but I kept coming back to one name, Ariel.  Ariel is the name of the archangel of healing and creativity (also of wrath).  It is also the name of a lively sprite in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.  And it is the name of one of the twelfth moon of Uranus.  Archangel Ariel is also known as the Lion of God.  How perfect with her gorgeous gold and copper coloring.  I like the name and all the meanings of it.  I think the name will give her vitality and strength.  And I think the name fits her nicely.  I've spoken it to her since, and she looks up.  It certainly does fit.

So, Ariel, I await you.  Every day that stands between us is too long.  My heart aches to open the door to that cage for the last time, to watch you spring out and explore and gallop and pounce and climb, and to see your cat-ness explode with joy and grace our home.  And to hold you and love you forever.