Every once in a great while, I get a glimpse into Gwen's life before us, and I don't like it.
We have a cat door that leads to the back room, where we keep the litter boxes and kibble. Aeris figured it out pretty well, but Gwen didn't quite get the hang of it. She could go through the flap if we taped it open, but pushing it open? No. (Oddly enough now I know how smart she is, I think she could do it if she wanted to.) One day, the flap fell down and taped itself shut. Aeris will bug us incessantly if she doesn't have access to something she needs, but especially at this point in time, Gwen was way too timid. As a last resort, she hopped into a cloth basket and peed.
I was shocked, but not angry - especially when I figured out why she'd peed where she did. We hopped up and took care of the problem. No yelling, no stomping, nothing sudden. But Gwen's reaction was complete terror.
Now, I've seen spazzy cats, and I've seen cats who know they're in trouble. Aeris gets that look all the time when she's caught smacking something off the dresser or desk. This is different. This is, "I am in so much trouble, they're going to hurt me" terror.
We didn't hurt her. We never would.
She seemed surprised when she dared to come back out and was greeted by people who were still happy to see her.
Last week, Gwen hopped up on the arm of the couch, as she usually does. I had a plate sitting on the end table with a few crumbs leftover from hard boiled eggs. Inquisitive little girl that she is, she sniffed at the plate. I reached over to grab something from the end table, and Gwen got that look of terror again. Pleasedon'thurtmeIwasjustsniffingtheplate!
It shocked me. I changed course and gently rubbed her cheek. The fear melted away and she climbed up next to me and went to sleep.
On the whole, Gwen is a confident and happy cat. You can see by the picture above that she is at peace. She lets us pet her, and even more as of late seems to really relish being touched. So I don't believe for a minute that she's actually afraid of us. It's pure reflex, from a time when she didn't feel safe.
I don't know who could be anything less than kind to this quiet, affectionate little girl, but apparently they exist, because every once in a blue moon, I see proof.