It was February 2013…I was in college studying to become a veterinary assistant and was finishing up the last few weeks by doing an internship at a local vet clinic. I had always wanted to help animals ever since I was a young girl and actually being able to be on the front lines in am actual veterinary hospital was a dream come true! It just so happened that the clinic I got placed at was a remote adoption centre for the Humane Society…I was only a few days into my internship when we received a new cat to foster and I’ll never forget the first time I saw those terrified green eyes gazing up at me.
They had found her out on the streets as a stray and they estimated that she was about a year old…She was a shy girl and had been terrified of everyone at the shelter. We got her set up in her kennel and the first thing she did was hide…There weren’t many places for her to go but she found some safe spaces pretty quickly. Every morning it was my job to feed her and set up her kennel and in the days that followed I began to work on gaining her trust. I let her get adjusted to my presence and I would pet her and give her treats, simple things to let her know that I wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. Eventually she would come right over to the bars to see me and she grew more eager for her breakfast and some cuddles. On a particularly slow day I let her out to stretch her legs and you can imagine my surprise when she crawled right into my lap and started purring!
The other clinic staff I was working with quickly noticed all of this and they would remark teasingly that I was falling in love, but in all honestly that we were meant for each other because we were both small, quiet, and unassuming. I knew it was true, it had been love at first sight and she felt it as much as I did. Many clients that passed in and out of the clinic were interested in the beautiful grey cat and I couldn’t help the ache I felt in my heart and the jealousy in the pit of my stomach as they visited with her. I could clearly see she was terrified of these strange people and that she wanted nothing to do with any of them, and it only cemented what I already knew – She didn’t belong with them, she belonged with me.
I filled out the adoption application and got a reply rather quickly – Having been the one to look after her the Humane Society was ecstatic that I was interested in her and were all too happy to adopt her out to me. They were so glad that she was going to such a good home and once I had finished my internship we left the clinic together.
I decided to name her Caoimhe (pronounced kee-va), a Gaelic name to honour my late grandfather who had also been a great animal lover. But more than that, the meaning of it spoke wonders: Beautiful, precious, and gentle. And she was…She really was. I could think of no better words to describe her.
For the first couple of weeks she lived in my room, mostly she stayed underneath my bed but she would come out at night to cuddle up with me while we slept. Every day she slowly began to explore a little further, and the more confident she became the more I was able to see her true personality coming through. Some of it came in huge strides, such as watching her bravely initiate the meeting with our older cat, and other things came in small and endearing quirks, such as the way she would chirp at us whenever we sneezed or how she would play fetch with her toy mouse.
Yet, people I introduced her to had trouble seeing what I saw. Caoimhe was a shameless mommy’s girl and was terrified of anyone but me. Footsteps and strange voices would send her running to hide and I heard many comments about how skittish she was and how she had to have something wrong with her. But I wasn’t going to give up on her and I knew that she would prove them wrong…We just had to work on it together.
Three and a half years later Caoimhe is completely unrecognizable from that anxious kitten I first brought home. Instead of hiding she now loves being close to people, and she will complain with chirps of protest when she isn’t being given enough attention. She will come and spend time with anyone who comes over and those same people who once doubted her have remarked in amazement how much she has changed.
I have never witnessed such a turnabout in personality as I have with her, and every day she amazes me a little more. She wakes me up with cuddles every morning and she is always there waiting for me at the door when I come home from work. She is my best friend, and not only has she been there beside me through everything but we’ve both come so far from the day that we first met…In a way we rescued each other and I can’t wait to see what the future continues to hold for us. -Caoimhe’s Mom