Two years ago, Tina brought me Mango, my beautiful little orange ball of hissing fur.
Initially, Mango was reluctant to leave the carrier Tina brought him in. He stuck his head out tentatively and hissed. I thought, “Well, this is not a good start,” but then I figured he was probably terrified of all the unfamiliar things that were happening to him. Tina gently removed him from his confinement and set him down on the floor, where he quickly skittered underneath a table.
He seemed so terrified of everything, and I wondered, what could have happened to this poor kitty to make him so fearful and skittish? He was hyperaware and jumped at every shadow — every movement — every sound. I decided I would dedicate as long as it took to get him to trust me. It was sad to see an animal so traumatized.
Several times a day I would enter Mango’s little safe room and read Dr. Seuss stories to him. I wanted him to get used to my voice and he seemed to like that. He would peek out from under his table and look at me while I read to him, and after several days, he let me pet his head. Only his head and only with one hand. He wasn’t going to let me get grabby — no way.
He still hissed at me if I tried to come close, but at least we had a bit of a start for possible friendship.
When he trusted me enough to be calm while I pet him, I let him out into the house, where he quickly became an orange blur and disappeared into the vast, unexplored worlds of the underneath. He would come out to eat, let me pet him a little, then scramble off again to seek sanctuary in shadowy, secret seclusion. If I tried to come closer than 5 feet from him, he’d hiss and make a mad dash for anywhere I was not. I could only pet him on his terms.
It took months for him to begin letting his guard down just a little, slowly and carefully easing from his fortress of fear. Then it took more months for me to see the sweetness in him. He would reach out from under places to let me touch his little paw. I learned that his hissing didn’t signal aggression. It signaled either fear or displeasure.
Eventually, his sweet side began to show and his personality blossomed.
Whenever I fully cleaned and washed his litter box, he brought me gifts. Once, it was a fork with residue from some chocolate cake I had been eating. He often hops up on my lap, curls up, and settles in with a contented sigh. (Oh joy!) He likes to stand up close to me and do Eskimo kisses. He plays roughhouse with me after I’m done petting him, as though I’m another cat.
Whatever I’m doing, he’ll watch for a while, then start pawing me to show he wants some love. When I return from long periods away from him, he runs to me with a greeting of “aaaaaaaaaaaa” with his tail up and quivering, then, “floomp,” he falls on the floor to be petted.
I love my Mango, the hissing orange love ball. I’m glad I could show him that there is love in the world for him.
Because of this experience, I feel a need to help as many animals as possible find the love and understanding that Mango and I found within each other.
Thank you, Tina, and thank you, Mango!
Michelle R. McMahon-Wilson
Owner, Virtual Vibrance Web Solutions