Shedding the Street Cat Mentality
Some of you have asked about how Franki is doing and whether he is successfully integrating with the girls yet. We are trying, but Franki is acting like the street cat he still thinks he is.
He's such a sweet cat. So loving. But still fearful. When we take him downstairs where the other cats hang out, he hides under the couch. We tried introducing him to both Blondie and Grizzabella, but Blondie scared him. Then we tried just him and Grizzabella because we thought they might get on better. They checked each other out, but both were fearful of each other, and Franki hid under the couch.
So then yesterday we just had him downstairs by himself. He is still very tentative and won't explore too much. He just stows himself away under the couch, where he feels safe. We think he'll come around. The good thing is that no one is getting super aggressive. Chappy is the one we worry about in that respect. She's a bit of a wild child and has been acting out lately.
When Franki is shut up in his room, he is so sweet. It's taken a bit for him to get comfortable and trusting with us. He would hide under a stool we have in there. Now he will come and lie with us. He loves having his tummy rubbed and will lick and nuzzle us.
He is very playful. We feel like he is a young cat. Dr. Bullard said maybe 3 years old, but I think he might be even younger.
But here are some of his street cat habits:
He eats like it will be the last meal he ever has.
He "buries" his food so other cats won't get it (even though there are no other cats in his room).
He hides to protect himself.
He tends to sleep on the cold tile rather than in the warm bed that is available to him.
He hisses or growls when we very first come into the room, then realizes we are not a threat and transforms into his sweet, loving self.
He looks longingly outside at his previous life even though it was rough and dangerous.
He still maintains digestive issues from his bad outdoor diet.
He bites a little harder than necessary, even when playing.
He is fearful of the other cats.
But I thought about this because we had similar, but different, issues with Jasper. When you've lived a certain way, a certain life, and your lived experiences have conditioned you to put up your defenses, it is often a slow process lowering those defenses. It requires love and patience.
Don't we all have "street cat" mentalities at times? We've been hurt or abused. Betrayed or attacked. We've done things or had things done to us that cause us to put up walls or to think less of ourselves.
But we aren't street cats inside. We are that loving, valuable, playful creature that Franki is remembering he is, and we, too, deserve to truly know that. To learn to trust and love again. To let go of fear and anger and all the baggage that impedes us, that blinds us to who we really are.
It will take time, but I believe this guy will come around. He will realize all the defensive behaviors he still carries with him are unnecessary in this safe space.
I wish the same for all of us.