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I was missing having a four-legged beast living with me, so I picked up a kitten from the humane society. She came from Annex Cat Rescue, so at 2 months old, there’s a good chance she was feral.

Not having had much contact with humans, the poor thing was extremely timid. A few minutes after bringing her home, she disappeared. My place isn’t that big and doesn’t have many hiding spots, so I was stumped. More than an hour later, I pulled out the sofa bed and she came crawling out of some hole she’d burrowed into. She pretty much spent the next couple of days there, until I figured out to cover the hole up after digging her out for the last time.

At first, the only way I was able to lure her out from under the couch was with a feather attached to a string. Despite her fear, the playful kitten in her wasn’t able to resist it. But any sudden movements on my part and she was gone again. So for the first day or two, I’d get her to come out, but would not even think about touching her.

Around the third day, I’d put my hand out. When she came close to sniff it, I’d stay still as stone. I could easily have grabbed her then, but didn’t. By the end of the third day, I could move my hand and she wouldn’t flinch.

On the fourth day, I could get her to come out without the feather. She’d come out to sniff my hand and would even let me pet her. On the fifth day, she walked across my lap. On the sixth, she was crawling into my lap and staying there.

By the seventh day, a week since I got her, she’s been getting up on my lap whenever I’m at my desk, curious about the movements on the screen, as well as whatever I might be eating. I’ve had to put her off my lap a few times even for her persistent annoyingness. It’s a good thing she’s still cute.

It’s only taken a week for her to get quite comfortable and brave. I’ve named her Jolene after the Dolly Parton song. Already she’s taught me a valuable lesson: in order to gain trust, you have to relinquish your ability to control a situation and let the other person (or cat) drive and set the pace. She’s been worth the wait.

Originally posted October 28, 2013

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