Some might call my cat Miracle a “fraidy cat.”
I say she just has sensitive hearing and has a very vivid imagination.
When there is any kind of pitched alarm (door buzzer, oven timer, etc) she scampers away to the nearest place of safety and won’t come out again until she is good and ready.
Ceiling fans really create stress for her. The shadows made from their fins taunt her. I think she imagines a great flying creature is overhead, ready to swoop down for the kill at any moment.
Her movements walking through the room with one in it are strategically designed to avoid being directly beneath the “creature’s” view.
She hugs the edges of the room, and if she has to go beneath her enemy for some reason (the doorman buzzed and she has to get to the back bedroom to safety!) she runs low to the ground looking up as she passes as if a pterodactyl is overhead and death is imminent. Kitty armageddon!
I feel for her. I relate to moving through the world in fight or flight mode. I, too, have sensitive hearing and a very vivid imagination. I, too, can make monsters out of harmless things and people.
Miracle was given her name by the Wichita Falls, TX vet who saved her life. She’d been found, near death, having been abused by someone. He named her Miracle because it was a miracle she had survived.
Her back leg is still a bit wonky from whatever cruelty was inflicted on her as a baby. And she hates being handled.
She is a fierce survivor.
My brother John adopted her immediately upon meeting her, despite already having two cats. They bonded deeply: she would perch on his broad shoulders when he was at his computer, and sleep on his vast chest when he slept.
When my brother died suddenly, she and his other two cats were left for a day and a half alone in his apartment after the EMT took him away.
As my father, other brother and I packed up John’s apartment, Miracle was the only one who would come out from her hiding places now and then. When we were done after a few days and it was time to leave, I had to go in and capture all of the cats. John’s vet was taking the 2 older ones. We were driving Miracle across Texas to Houston.
Turns out a fourth cat was hiding under the bed with the other two. He was a stray John had sometimes fed on his porch. Somehow he got in, probably during the EMT situation.
This cat did not look well. I left him until last and then went ahead and gathered him up to take him to the vet too.
(We later found out that that cat was indeed very sick. The other two older cats were infected. Somehow, Miracle survived that too. It was such a relief that she’d escaped that. My brother would have been heartbroken at that whole sad situation.)
We drove Miracle down the 8 or so hours to Houston. I had offered her a home, but my cancer-fighting father insisted that he take care of her at his house there.
(My father, who had NEVER liked cats. He’d somehow fallen in love and then married a woman who had a huge heart and an enormous love of all animals. We always had cats and dogs growing up, much to his chagrin. He had begrudgingly tolerated them over the years.
Once, he suggested my mom just feed them all dry food, I guess he hated the smell of canned food. My mother asked him would he like to eat ceareal for dinner the rest of their marriage. That put that to rest.
But having lost his father, then his sweetheart of 54 years and now his son in a short period of time, I think his heart was so stretched out by grief that he was willing and able. And perhaps it was a last act of fatherhood he could give to John, to look after his favorite cat.)
Miracle and my Dad got along surprisingly well. I will never forget visiting and actually seeing him let her get on his lap! He said she was alright company. He just wished two things: that she’d not throw up or lick his arm. Otherwise, she was ok.
They were together about 7 months until my Dad died. Again, the EMT came, this time to take my Dad away. But luckily, my other brother was the one who found him, so he was there to help Miracle through the commotion this time.
Now, the plan was for me to bring her up to NYC to live with me. She was on her own for about a month in my Dad’s house until I could fly down. My brother visited her daily, but she grew very lonely.
I was getting married and moving all at the same time and needed to wait for a calm time to bring her up where I could help her integrate.
But she was getting restless alone, so it became clear we had to do something.
Fortunately, and quite miraculously, at my father’s memorial service, his first secretary happened to offer an interim place for her to stay. Turned out she fostered animals and was well set up to take in a cat shortterm. So Miracle was moved to her place, where she had an area in a finished basement. She was played with, and safe.
I finally got down as soon as I could after the move and flew her back home. Anyone who has traveled on a plane with a cat knows it is very stressful on them. She did pretty well, considering.
I carefully went about the process of adding her to my household, which already held two cats: a brother and sister who had been the apples of my eye and ruled my roost for 15 years.
Though I implemented all the plans I read about how to do this, it did not go well. The other two were not welcoming, and sort of forced Miracle into living in one room of the apartment. Suddenly there were war zones, and each cat had their own territory.
My visions of three cats piled together sleeping on the couch were dashed.
It wasn’t what I had hoped, but Miracle seemed happy enough in her zone, which was my husband and my shared office. She had her own litter box and food area.
And so we became a three cat household.
It turns out that this Miracle cat, who I thought I was saving by bringing her to my home, would end up saving mine.
Within a month after bringing her up, my beloved boy cat Pookie was diagnosed with an agressive bone cancer. He passed away within three months.
It was devastating. Shortly thereafter, his sister Sabrina was diagnosed with cancer. After a long illness, she too passed away the next year.
So for the first year and a half with us, Miracle was not only the third cat on the totem pole, but she was also sort of the backburner cat to the ill cats in terms of attention.
The day I lost Sabrina was extremely hard. For whatever reason, her loss held all the other major losses in it: my mother, brother, father and Pookie.
Thank God for Miracle.
If I’d had to come home to an empty-of-cats home, it would have been even more impossibly sad than it already was.
But fortunately, I came home to a little furry loved one who needed my attention. And boy, did I need her.
Today, Miracle has reign of the full apartment, as well as our full attention. It has taken time for her to expand her territory into formerly enemy regions. And though I think a part of her will always be looking over her shoulder, she seems to be fully owning being top cat, and flourishing under our undying love.
Yes, she is sensitive to sounds and she thinks ceiling fans are flying predators. But it has been several years without the EMT at the door, and we are pretty much now living in her apartment instead of her living in ours.
Just as it should be.