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My cat Tilly - the messed up one. Tuesday July 21, 2015

Blink gently at a cat and they'll sense you're being a friend. Yawn to a cat (preferably whilst blinking gently), and they'll just know you're no foe.

I first met Tilly whilst engaging in volunteer work in what is, shall we say, one of Liverpool's less salubrious parts. I got chatting to Lin, a Cat Saviour. Lin directed my attention to a kitten, not much bigger than my hand, who didn't so much move, as dance about, grabbing the scraps of ham that Lin had thrown to the Grizabellas of L4. Despite her size and youth - she wasn't more than a few months old - it was notable that Tilly held her own amongst the big bruisers; life had necessitated that she learn quickly - her mother was missing and her siblings had met only with tragedy.

We got it totally wrong with Tilly, mum and I.

We were used to taking in strays (huh, yeah, remember Binky?); local cats that had been left behind with yesterday's rubbish as tenants moved on. We were even used to cats that had suffered mistreatment or neglect but what we hadn't handled before was a 9 week old kitten who had never received human contact.

Whereas past experience had proven that allowing a cat to explore and come out of his safe haven, in his own time, was the best way forward, we simply didn't realise that with a cat so young, we ought to have handled her and picked her up, despite her plaintive cries to leave her be - head buried like an ostrich in her fleecy blanket.

So she's a very well cared for but a very messed up kitty, Tilly (something for which I feel no little amount of guilt). She lost her gung-ho, her confident street attitude - even if it was just an act - but we realised our mistake too late to instill in her security enough to ask us for love and affection, so she's a mish-mash of "stuff"; a hodgepodge of feline melodrama. Neither soft nor strong. Neither affectionate nor feral.

I often catch Tilly staring at Sam (her protective older 'brother'), who loves a knee to knead or a hand to stroke and scratch him, and I hope that she becomes a true "copy-cat".

Tills appreciates any time I lavish upon her in playtime with her wicker mouse but sometimes I lie opposite her, sprawled out on the bed or floor and I blink softly at her (cat kisses). Then I yawn and blink. She blinks back. We have this silent conversation for several minutes until, finally, Tilly succumbs and melts, stretches out her paw to me, rolls onto her back and, with a squeak, invites me to tickle her tum.

It's at that moment, as I'm whispering my adoration to this small, sensitive and shy soul, that I realise Tilly is as desperate for love as any human who doesn't always know how to ask for it.

The magic of this tale is that Tilly, as damaged and as hyper-sensitive as she is, can and does receive love and affection. All she requires is a little bit of patience, a little bit of time and a whole lot of gentleness.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Tue, Jul 21st 2015 @ 5:57am

Oh I love it!!
Love ratg xx.

Sally Tue, Jul 21st 2015 @ 7:04am

Tilly sounds adorable. Comparable in part to a new born baby who starts off life so wide eyed and innocent. My niece was born last week, and her behaviour reminds me of everything that is natural in human behaviour. Responsive to cuddles and coos, seeking warmth and protection, reassurance and routine. Open to new sights and sounds, but fearful of anything too intrusive, she is making her first discoveries about the world she will inhabit and the people who will be her family and friends. Our natural instinct to protect and nurture is very much at the fore for humans of this age. So why and how do we lose these instincts sometimes as the years roll on? If only we could all carry in our minds the picture of that helpless but lovable baby, and show the same kindness and empathy that we do to newborns.

Sharon Tue, Jul 21st 2015 @ 9:40am

What a lovely post, it brought a tear to my eye. I can resonate with Tilly :) x

Mary Blackhurst Hill Tue, Jul 21st 2015 @ 11:50am

Adore this! Cat kisses, eh? Who knew!

Anonymous Tue, Jul 21st 2015 @ 12:01pm

Tilly is a very blessed kitty to have you to love her so carefully, patiently and totally. Such a lovely demonstration of how we would all treat each other in a perfect world. Awwwww thanks, Suzy. susan xx

Anonymous Tue, Jul 21st 2015 @ 1:31pm

Loving this blog, Suzy, Tilly sounds purfect!!
Karen (bearofliddlebrain) x x x

Melanie Lowndes Tue, Jul 21st 2015 @ 2:06pm

Dear Suzy, I am also in tears, resonating with Tilly and your last sentence. You do write beautifully - I was captivated by this. Love, Melanie

Anonymous Tue, Jul 21st 2015 @ 5:28pm

"Whole lot of gentleness".Yes love that line!And I think the displays of kindness to even another species show the depths of human capacity for compassion and connections. Thanks Suzy.Jen x

The Entertrainer Wed, Jul 22nd 2015 @ 9:04am

This is beautiful... and now I have Cat kisses to share with the cats here. So that's why they were winking at me!!! I've been being showered with kisses for years and didn't know it. How lovely. Thanks Suzy, L'xx

olegzaezdny Sun, Jul 26th 2015 @ 10:42am

Tilly is lucky. And the last paragraph makes me think: it's the same with humans, isn't it?

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