I had been thinking about adopting a cat for a while now but hadn’t done anything to start that process until all the sudden we were in the midst of the pandemic. Isolating alone was the last straw in my decision to finally look into adopting a cat. The adoption process right now is rather interesting in that it is all virtual. From online kitty profiles, to video chat meet and greets with a cat. Needless to say when I finally inquired about a cat that was actually still available I was super excited! And last Saturday I officially adopted Tigress.
Tigress is a shier kitty who they said was starting to come out of her shell a little more each day since the shelter closed and there were less visitors. When I first brought Tigress home she was rightfully a bit terrified when she got out of the carrying case and explored her new space. However, it has been amazing to watch her settle in and to see her come out of her shell a little bit as we've spent time together, sometimes just in silence sitting in the same space, and sometimes getting treats and being petted. And now sometimes even playing with a string.
As I have started to reflect on our time together, even though it has only been a few days, I am realizing how this has been an experience for me to practice mutuality and a ministry of presence. Both mutuality and a ministry of presence are things I learned about and talked a lot about throughout my training to be a deaconess. Mutuality is about meeting a person, or in this case a kitty where they are at. Being attentive to what they might be needing and not just focusing on what you want to get out of your interaction. With Tigress this means letting our interaction go at Tigress’ pace.
Allowing her to settle in and warm up to me and not force her to snuggle and be held, even if that is what I would want. Giving her space to just be and to move on her terms and her pace of getting comfortable in her new situation. When it comes to a ministry of presence, what I mean by that is sometimes we are just called to be present. Whether that is with a new cat, or a friend who is hurting in some way. Sometimes all that is needed is just being there to sit and listen or to sit in silence and just be together. Companionship and just being with someone can be just as powerful for them as a hug or conversation.
Mutuality and ministry of presence are important aspects of the work we do as a church and as part of youth ministry, and as I am learning, they are also important when adopting a pet, especially a shy kitty.