Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Maya's Sanctuary

On Mothers' Day I was one of 5 therapists providing bodywork sessions at the Ladybird Animal Sanctuary Fair. I did Shiatsu while 3 massage therapists and 1 reflexologist worked their magic. From 1 - 5 p.m. we pretty much went non-stop in the theatre space at the Pearl Company in Hamilton while bands played, literally overhead, in the music venue upstairs.
Elsewhere in the venue there was drumming, yoga, face painting and arts and crafts for kids. Moms got to enjoy sessions with us and have their tarot cards read. Between sessions I grabbed 2 pieces of cake from one of the many bake sale tables and perused the artist stands.
Rod and I have 2 wonderful rescue cats - Maya and Flippy so this cause is close to my heart. Maya came to us from Oakville Humane Society and Flip from Burlington Animal Aid (now Burlington Humane Society).
"How long are you in for Maya?" we ask her.
She kinda looks pathetic; like she's in incarceration.
She's just finished playing with one of her
"fuzzies" (note it in foreground).

As you can see, she's a lovely black kitty. What you can't see are the cute white spots on her throat, chest and tummy. She and Flip are our fur babies. Maya was a 6 week old kitten who came into OHS with her litter mates and over a dozen other neglected cats rescued from a bad situation. A little over a year later she was the only one remaining from the batch. A high percentage of cats in shelters are black. Superstition plus the fact that they are more modest than their flashy counterparts means they are often overlooked.
Though daily efforts were made by the staff to socialize Maya, she was a frightened kitty slinking about for out places to hide when she was brought to meet us in the visiting room. Her future didn't look promising but she captured our hearts and though we had intended to get one cat after our beloved cat Max died (also adopted from Burlington Animal Aid) we couldn't not take her home. The next morning we both agreed we'd be coming home with 2 cats.
She hung her head down with both paws
over the rim of her kitty box at OHS and looked so sad.
"She will probably always stay in hiding, in a closet or under a dresser," we were warned.
That didn't matter to us. She'd have to opportunity to wander about the house if she choose; or not.
I was however concerned that she and Flip may have difficulty bonding. So we took our time in introducing them to each other. Over the next few days we alternated confining each to a bedroom while the other was free to roam the house. Maya chose mainly to remain under the dresser. But they sniffed each other through closed doors. We switched their rooms and left the other cat's towel behind so that they could get used to the other's scent.
Then came the meeting...
We placed each cat in their crate facing each other at a distance. In increments we inched them closer and then leave them for a bit. When there was only a small space left between them we dangled string and toys for them to play with. They fixed their eyes on their prey; their paws almost touched every time they swiped at the objects before them. Slowly we opened the doors and they emerged. And from that moment on Flip became Maya's mentor and social therapy cat. For the first few years when Maya wasn't in hiding she was glommed on to Flip.
And though she may hide when company comes and let you know very quickly when she's had one pat too many with a warning hiss and bat of a paw with claws retracted, every time I look at her I'm reminded how lucky we are to have our little rescue kitty.

That's Maya's story and I'm reminded of it every time I see her like this. And, though it doesn't look like it she'll tell you that she's actually very happy hanging out on the rungs of the stool in her home...when she's not taring around the house, bugging us for pats or to play with her numerous fuzzy toys.

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