Marilyn Briant is the author of The Pax Principles - a Red Ribbon Winner 2020, in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards (UK)
Loving A Little Feral Cat
I love animals and during the last few months since I published my third book, I have been spending more time on Facebook, watching them in the short videos people post on there! I love seeing the rescues—some of them bringing tears to my eyes and reminding me of the kitten I rescued a few years ago.
Bella was a little feral cat who adopted me during my morning walk. She seemed to simply appear out of nowhere, meowing and following me down the road. Eventually she began eating and sleeping on my lanai outside, where I had placed a cat bed lined with one of my cashmere sweaters to keep her warm! But I hated that she got so scared when there were storms, or the landscaping workers were around. I wanted to let her in, but I am allergic to cats so could not have her inside my house.
Since I could not provide a permanent home for her, I tried asking everyone I know and many others I didn’t know, if they wanted to adopt her. I advertised on our community website too, but no-one responded positively. I ended up seeking a home for Bella for more than a year, without success.
During that period, with a lot of love and regular meals, she really blossomed. Initially she was almost all white and very skinny, with practically no markings. But over time Bella turned into a healthy, beautiful, calico cat. Intelligent, sweet and loving too Bella became an adorable pet, and I grew to truly love her.
Letting Her Go
We spent a lot of time together, and I got very used to having her around. Even though I wanted her to have a “proper” home, I thought of her as my cat and loved taking care of her. So, when a friend of mine stepped up and said she was ready to take Bella, I was both pleased and a little bit upset at the thought of giving her up.
On the day she was picked up Bella was sitting on her usual chair, curled up, sleeping when I went outside to spend a little time with her, before putting her into the kitty transporter. I talked to her, stroking her soft coat and she licked my hand, purring. Unexpectedly choking back tears, I sat there feeling my heart was breaking, wondering how I could let her go.
I thought about the first time Bella approached me, when she was small, dirty and starving, meowing so pitifully that I just couldn’t ignore her. How I had given her food and water, gradually coaxing her to stay near my house and eventually persuading her to spend most of her time on the lanai. I thought about how much Bella now trusted me to care for her. I wondered if she would ever know that I was only giving her away because I loved her and wanted the best for her.
I remember how weeks after she left, I was still missing Bella. I looked for her when I came home expecting to see her little face, missed her meowing from outside the door, when I got up in the mornings. I got teary-eyed thinking about her and felt sad when thoughts of her arose in my head during the day.
But when I looked at the pictures my friend shared with me - saw Bella stretched out sleeping next to her. Saw how comfortable she was curled up on my friend’s sofa, I felt better.
I knew my little furry friend had found a “proper” home, that she was loved and cared for. I accepted I had played my part in Bella’s life—willingly loving her and letting her go, to have a life that was better for her in every way.
Attachment Is Both A Strength And Weakness!
So, in thinking about it today, I acknowledge my attachment to her was my greatest strength. It allowed me to love her completely—enough to want only the best in life for her, enough to let her go.
I also understand how easy it is for some of us to find excuses not to love. To find reasons to hold back, afraid of losing those we love, and being hurt. Not realizing that in so doing, we deny ourselves the wonderful experience of really loving.
But it is only in loving and in letting others go, whether through breakups or death, that I finally realized attachment is both a strength and a weakness. That nothing is mine. Instead, the people (and animals) I choose to love are in my life because all that really matters is my ability to love.
Love is not about ownership, or control or need. And being attached to both things and people means understanding they may not always be there. There may come a time when I need to let them go. And when that happens, I will gratefully accept there is no loss where love is involved.