Nimbus was very sick when he arrived at WarmFuzzy’s and he was also an emotional…challenge. Being out on his own for a very long time, he is socially inept. He doesn’t know how to behave around anyone other than Monty, his road buddy. He sincerely wants to belong but he lacks the social graces that might help him assimilate with the others.
Nimbus doesn’t retract his claws and he was always reaching out to claw us. He’d sink one or more of his claws deep into flesh and hang on, blood would flow and we’d cry out in pain. We grabbed his little paw and pulled it away (after dislodging it from the meat) and sometimes even lightly pinched his paw and told him, “No.” Nothing seemed to stop this behavior. Day in and day out, he’d nail us. He’d lay in the hallway and snipe us as we passed by. He wasn’t mean but he was fast. He was relentless and the pain he inflicted was excruciating. After going through several gallons of peroxide (no exaggeration) to clean wounds, we were at our wits end as to what we might do about this behavior until one day I had an idea. I wondered if he was doing this because he was insecure and starved for attention. I informed the Missus of my theory and explained my plan. Every time I passed him in the hallway, I would stop and pet him. I would walk across the room and pet him before I left. I would pet him and pet him and pet him until maybe one day he’d get tired of me petting him, although I doubt he ever would.
At first, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. I would pet him and he would sink his claws into me when I tried to pull my hand away and although it was difficult, I maintained a calm demeanor and gently pulled his claws away and then I’d pet him some more for good measure. We repeated this process twenty to thirty times every day.
After a few weeks of working with Nimbus I am happy to announce that the sniping in the hallway has stopped completely and he rarely snags us the way he used to. Oh, once in a while he makes a good connection but it’s nothing like the daily bloodletting we experienced with him before. Nimbus has become confident that we love him and comfortable with the manner in which we show love. There are even times he seeks me out for attention. He’ll find me wherever I am, sit at my feet and meow and when he does I stop whatever I’m doing, reach down and pet him. If he asks for love, he deserves to get some love and when he needs reassurance he gets it. I give him lovin’s even when it is inconvenient for me to do so. If, for example, I am moving through in a hurry and he meows as I pass by, I will still stop and pet him. I let him know that I will always be there for him. If I’m walking through the house with a load of firewood for the wood stove and I cannot stop, I walk back to him after I’ve laid the wood down and I pet him. He waits. He knows I’ll be back.
Love is all Nimbus wants, he’s just socially awkward and he reacted the only way he knew how when he thought someone was leaving him. He latched onto them and wouldn’t let go. Oh, the things Nimbus must have experienced when he was out in the wild and he was out there a very long time.
I don’t think people are so different from Nimbus. People snag us in their own way when they are insecure or need reassurance and we withdraw or even lash out. Sadly, we expected Nimbus to behave socially the same way we expect people to behave. We want them to fit our mold.
I think we’ve got this all messed up, don’t you?
I Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind.
We get the second part but sometimes overlook the first.
Love is patient. Love is patient. Love is patient.
We are now introducing Nimbus to hugs. We’ll get there eventually.
We love you, Nimbus. Oh yes, we do.