Can you tell she’s a diva?
I bet you can tell just by the expression on her face. She had me worried over the weekend. Spayed last Friday, and by Sunday evening she hadn’t eaten or peed. We get feral/community kitties who don’t eat for a bit, but rarely do we have one who hasn’t peed in two days. If she had been a he, there would have been a trip to the emergency vet, but since females rarely get blocked, I watched and waited. I put out a variety of canned foods along with kibble and did what I could to tempt her. If she didn’t eat and pee by Monday morning, she was going to the vet’s office.
Sunday I force-fed her a couple times with a slurry of turkey baby food and water. She wasn’t happy about being fed that way, but she didn’t try to hurt me either. Sometimes the cats seem to forget they need to eat, and you can get them going again this way. I left her with some canned food Sunday night, and kept my fingers crossed.
Miraculously, by Monday morning she had eaten the canned food and she had very carefully peed in the water bowl. No urine anywhere else, just the water bowl. She just wasn’t willing to soil her area. She’s a diva.
My job, as her hostess, is to make her accommodations as amenable as possible while she’s with me. So what to do for a diva feral female? I found a small food container, not large, but wider than her water bowl by a little, filled it with litter and put it in her trap for her. Happy kitty now. Eating her wet food at night when no one is watching and using her little litter box. Hostess duties completed and kitty’s dignity in tact.
So much of work with homeless animals is about preserving or reestablishing the dignity of the animals we care for. They have such hard lives living in the elements, or in encounters with other animals (note the long scratch on our diva’s face) and with people who wish them harm. For those of us who do rescue, TNR, and other animal welfare projects, our job is hospitality while they are in our care. It is about making them as comfortable as we can and about improving their lives when they move on from whatever care we provide. It is the work of hospitality, whatever that means for an individual animal.
Some animals, like our visiting diva, accept the hospitality with gratitude and make the most of it. Others find even the kindest gesture threatening. We offer it anyway, as gently as possible, and without expectation of gratitude or even acceptance, in hopes that somewhere deep inside, it registers just a little bit as care and kindness. Maybe, just maybe, the next time hospitality is offered it will be just a teensy bit more welcome.
“True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person. Henri Nouwen has described it as receiving the stranger on his own terms….”
― Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography