We all have tipping points. Malcolm Gladwell’s phrase is now part of the lexicon: the moment when a situation changes, causing you to see things differently, do things different – or at least understand a situation better. Or… it could be when you snap completely, and the train goes off the rails. 😉
I’ve had a few tipping points in the last week – of both the wonderful and mind-losing variety.
It started when Carrie reached a tipping point of her own, when she learned she had to move swiftly from her beautiful art studio. She had thought she could keep the kittens there until they were placed (Mookie already has a home but not until September), but you add stress of moving + kittens getting too big for their crate = time for them to go. Despite not having an inch of square footage in the “main house,” I decided they’d be okay in the downstairs half-bath.
It didn’t take long for them to settle in, and they thoughtfully helped me rearrange the picture frames….
made sure the faucet was working…
and ensured the proper motion of the toilet paper…
… among many other important chores, before they passed out in their triple-decker shelf-bed.
(And no, Mookie isn’t looking at his brother below; he really is asleep that way.)
It’s been mayhem of the most adorable variety, and in the week since then I’ve struggled to maintain the schedule required to nurture and care for this many felines, at the same time as I’m trying to wrap up the scheduling of my annual, nine-day marathon fall literary festival with 800+ authors. But I managed. Until – yes – came a tipping point or two.
Ginger, my elderly tortie rescue with mouth cancer, went into heat yet again. (It’s happened every couple of months like clockwork since I brought her home from the parking lot 19 months ago. At the time, I’d made the decision not to stress her with spay surgery when she was supposed to only live a few weeks. Sigh.) Suddenly, the tenuous harmony of the household was disrupted by the plaintively horny old gal, who cried and howled throughout the day, sidling up to Big Mike for attention, who politely if confusedly ignored her pleas. She was freaking Iggy and Lena out, so they were acting out. (A GOOD day was when I could come home to only one puddle of Iggy’s self-induced barf on the carpet.)
Add to this the fact that our little nonprofit, Coastside Feral Care , suddenly ran out of money. I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind.
But just like that, a few positive tipping points were reached that lifted me up.
Wendy Stokes, a nonprofit consultant who clearly knows her stuff, put out the word about us on NextDoor – a social media I knew nothing about – and within a few days we had gotten enough in the bank to keep going. (Thank the heavens, and especially Saint Francis, for animal lovers everywhere.)
And Ginger’s heat was blessedly short this time: the caterwauling stopped within a few days.
And a beautiful tipping point happened with Maya, the kittens’ mother. It was that magical moment, as happens sometimes in rescue, where a cat goes from being only interested in the food you’re doling out, to wanting to bond. I put her food down, stroked her head as much as she’d normally allow, and then turned to walk back to my car. For the first time, she followed me. Confused, I walked back to her food plate, thinking she just had not seen it. I gestured to the plate, then realized she was doing the curl-step with her feet, kneading the ground.
Stunned, I put my hand on her head again, and this time she didn’t pull away. She curled her head and leaned into me gratefully.
Our relationship has been different since that moment. And now of course I’m anxious to find HER a good home – at least an indoor-outdoor one. Because she has crossed over from being a detached parking lot cat into a potential lap-cat, never to turn back. How could I now watch her spend her winter hiding from the rain and sleeping in a bush?
But perhaps the most important tipping point was when my own perspective got a jolt. Attending an event for the Humane Society, I was telling someone about my brood: two original housecats, and fosters Big Mike whose leg was all but torn off, Charlie who lives on my patio, Pokey the FIV+ boy who’d been hit by a car in his youth, Skeeter with chronic respiratory issues, a terminally-ill (and shockingly fertile) geriatric tortie, and now three kittens. Knowing this was a sympathetic person I was speaking to, I knew she would not label me a CCL (Crazy Cat etc.), but I didn’t expect her to be so charitable either.
“So what you have,” she smiled, “is a sanctuary. What a blessing for these cats – and what a blessing for you!”
I came home from that outing to the monsoon of cat hair, bowls to clean, squabbles to quell, kittens to socialize and litter boxes to clean with a new perspective. I might be close to derailing from stress and overwork at any given moment, but I can never doubt that my blessings are many indeed.
Thanks, Saint Francis, for the reminder.