The month of gifts and giving and I know, I have been given something precious.
Many months ago, three feral cats showed up on my back steps. One moment my back steps are empty, the next there are young cats hanging out. Beautiful white cats with a varying degree of markings. I tagged them as the three mousekateers. Not wanting to see anything go hungry I began feeding them just enough to know they would be okay. Of course when you feed stray cats, they take up residence. My hope was to tame them enough to find them homes.
The first to trust we were calling Loudmouth because this guy was very vocal. When he wanted attention he would stand up against the door and yowl until someone came outside. He was also a real snuggle bunny. But, he disappeared one day never to return. The other two were female who both had kittens. The one we called Fuzzy due to her overly fluffy tail had three. Itty Bitty, because she was so small, had four. For some reason, Itty Bitty moved her kittens from here, also never to be seen again. Fuzzy is also now gone but her kittens remain, as does Itty.
I kept trying to gain their trust talking to them every meal delivery. Every time I refilled the water dish, I carried on that one sided conversation to cats who were peeking at me from various hiding spots. I also began staying outside longer, lingering so they would adjust and become accustomed to my presence. Then one day, I managed to actually touch one of the kittens. From there we made progress almost daily.
Which brings us to now. They wait for me in the morning to bring out their food. Once they had jumped on the can food, now they prefer dry, barely touching the can though they will manage to finish it off by day’s end. As I put the food in place, they curl around my ankles, rubbing against my legs as they await attention more than the food. Not so feral cats that have learned to trust. So much so that my son made the comment that now all I have to do is walk outside and they come running for attention. But then I wait for them to come to me, I don’t go trying to chase them down.
Trust is a very difficult gift to earn sometimes. Depending on the individual and the past they endured.
Feral kittens are taught by feral moms to be vary and not trust. They are taught to be ever alert to threats and dangers. It is what protects them from predators and keeps them alive.
An individual, no matter their age who have been abused in any form, also will adapt that survival, lack of trust mentality. They have been hurt before, and do not wish to endure more pain. Gaining the trust of one in such a survival mode of living, is not easy. Once earned should be treasured and not abused or taken for granted.
My thoughts on some of the ways of gaining trust, and these are merely my thoughts. Not all will work on all people. Because people having different personalities and different pain, will take different methods. The important thing to note though, is that one should never seek to gain the trust of another for the wrong reasons.
Allow for time, don’t hurry anything, for any reason.
Don’t ask for anything but offer what will be accepted. Conversation, company, recognizing their presence. Simple, uncomplicated things.
Be there should they reach out. Maybe you can’t drop everything and run to their side but you can do what you are able as you are able to be there for them.
Understand that there are those who don’t ask for anything because they have been made to feel under some form of obligation upon accepting anything.
A lack of trust, is often due to fear. Not knowing the intention of others and whether the outcome will be good or bad or even dangerous.
Don’t demean them because of their not trusting you or others. To accuse them of actions to prevent any form of relationship will not help but will slow or even prevent their trusting.
Those who are lacking in trust, most likely have a very wounded soul, a damaged spirit, causing them to do what they feel necessary to protect themselves from further injury. When you earn their trust, they are giving you a very special, very precious gift. Yes, it is different in people and animals. It seems that we understand the reasons animals don’t trust, but we have difficulty with people. We tend to want to toss out comments such as ‘get over it’ or ‘you shouldn’t be that way’ without taking possible reasons into consideration and the fact that humans are much more complex than animals. Humans also tend to attempt to hide their pain for many reasons. Partly because of aforementioned comments, partly because of a lack of understanding, partly because of feeling that others really don’t want to hear about it, among other reasons. There is also the fear that their trust may be misplaced and used against them.
The outside, not so stray, not so feral cats have given me a very wonderful gift in their growing trust. How much more precious is that gift when an individual shares that trust?