Merriam-Webster defines RESILIENT as: Adjective / re-sil-ient / -capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture / tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
My “Helen” is the epitome of the word RESILIENT. She is by far, the strongest animal that I have ever known; and in only her 4 short years of life, remains simply, an old soul.
Helen was brought to Lien Animal Clinic in September of 2012 by Seattle Animal Control. She was found near a recycling dumpster in South Seattle, along with her litter mate. Barely weeks old, with matted eyes and covered in fleas, it quickly became clear that this little kitten would be something special.
Having never been a “cat” person, I was immediately struck by the innocence of this tiny creature. So tiny and alone in this big world, I couldn’t imagine how scary life was for her. The magnitude of these thoughts became overwhelming when our doctor determined that “Helen” probably had no eyes. Once they were able to clean her up and get medication started to help with the infection in both sockets it was determined that she had underdeveloped eye balls; with possibly a slight development of the iris as she seemed to “look” towards light; however sight was ruled out as any possibility.
In that moment, my “lack of cat person qualities” went completely out the window and my nurturing (aka, “mama bear”) instincts kicked in to high gear. How could this small bundle of cuteness survive without me? Who would take care of her? What would be her prognosis for life? All of these questions ran through my head as I provided my name and number to Seattle Animal Control and told them that I would like to be considered to adopt. First off, “Helen” and her brother “Leopold” (as we affectionately named him since he looked like a little leopard) would have to go in to foster care and be big enough for their spay and neuter; respectively.
Two months later, the phone call came: “Helen” is ready for her forever home. Are you still interested? Yes, of course! And what about “Leopold”? “Helen” will surely need her brother, her guide, the one she hid behind in the kennel and snuggled with at night. Unfortunately, “Leopold” did not survive. He, the stronger one, the bigger one, the one with eyes, died. So, on November 28, 2012, “Helen” came home to live with my daughter and me.
This definition of RESILIENT speaks about her life: I can’t imagine being abandoned at birth, losing my parents and the only sibling there to protect me, born with a disability that would prevent me from living a safe and observant existence. But “Helen” is RESILIENT beyond belief and so amazing in what she knows. She has a calmness about her unlike any other cat I’ve been around (except maybe, Miss Beverly at Lien Animal Clinic). Where she doesn’t have sight, she has her other senses that are on extreme overdrive. This girl can hear a fly buzzing through the house and climb furniture to swat at it while I’m still trying to focus in on it. She “watches” the sounds of birds from the window sill, turning her head from side to side as they fly past. She uses her “feelers” (aka whiskers) to navigate her way around our house (3 in total just living with us; which means she has to reestablish her boundaries each time). She is a gentle soul; she has never bit or lashed out. She hisses when she means business; but usually only to her other kitty housemate (also known as the pesky little sister) or to other animals; which she will encounter on occasion when she comes to Lien to visit. She qualifies for non-anesthetic dentals due to her calm demeanor and ALWAYS seems to be smiling. “Helen” is cautious, but she is brave. How did you get up there? Is a question asked quite often in this home. She is a typical cat when it comes to boxes or bags and can be seen tossing her catnip stuffed mouse in to the air and pouncing it as if she could see exactly where it landed! For a girl that started off on the worst of circumstances, she is healthy and thriving and smart and downright AH-MAY-ZING!!
“Helen” has taught me so much about being RESILIENT to your circumstances. At times when I question things going on around me, she seems to sense my struggles and jumps up on my lap for some snuggle time and kitty kisses. Its moments like these that quickly remind me that if “Helen” can adjust to change and acclimate to her surrounding, why can’t I? She doesn’t cower to her disabilities; she jumps up high to reach her abilities. So why can’t I? I’ve learned that if she can overcome obstacles that get in her way, why can’t I? And if being a “cat lady” includes her; count me in!!
Daphney Newtson, Client Services Representative