Some time ago, the Dalai Lama declared that animals have souls. This didn’t surprise me at all.
Many cats have lived with me, over many years, and I never doubted that each of them had consciousness, a sense of their identity, that they could feel and think, express emotions. The soul is not exclusive to humans.
I was at a shelter looking for a kitten, when I first saw Lotus. She was beyond shy, she was terrified, she wouldn’t let anyone near, and so she was never petted, never adopted. She was always curled up in a ball, in a corner, making herself as small as she could.
So alone, I understood what that was like, and so of course I brought her home with me.
In our beginning, Lotus ran from me, always. She would come out at night to eat and then disappear into some corner of the apartment. I started talking to her in the softest voice possible. I took to saying, “Lotus is a good girl, a good girl,” and I hoped I could get across to her that she had nothing to fear, and it helped, but only a very little.
And this is the way we lived together. I took care of her, I loved her…but she wouldn’t come close, wouldn’t let me pet her, she still would run away. It saddened me, of course.
But I knew that I had done the right thing, the kind thing, in giving her a home.
And then, last year, I went on a long vacation. My daughter and granddaughter came to feed her and talk to her every day, so she would continue to hear a human voice. But she never came out of hiding, they told me.
When I came home, I called to her as I always did —“Lotus, I’m home.”
I said it a few times, adding “Lotus is a good girl.” And then, slowly, with great hesitation, she came to me.
She looked so awful, so ragged, and it was clear she hadn’t been grooming herself. And she started winding herself around my legs, using a voice I’d never heard from her.
And she kept rubbing herself against my legs — unheard of in the past.
I was exhausted, and desperately needed to sleep and much to my astonishment, she jumped up on the bed and lay down next to me, close to me. And as I fell into a deep sleep, I heard her purring. It was the first time that I’d heard that beautiful sound from her, and we both fell asleep together. And that was the beginning of the relationship we have now. One of the most beautiful things in my life is falling asleep with Lotus next to me, she is purring and she knows she is safe.
There are still times she shifts into her “other” self. I let her be. She knows she is much loved, I see it in her beautiful green eyes, she knows no harm will come to her here, and yet something, a memory most likely, sometimes causes her to run and hide.
But see her, now, as she sits in front of the window, my beautiful Lotus, watching the birds I feed. She sits, quietly, while I write, and she is comfortable.
I don’t know what happened to her before I adopted her, what caused such a fear of humans. And I don’t want to think about it and it doesn’t matter.
She has a secure and loving home.
I still say “Lotus I’m home” when I come in the door. And I add “Lotus is a good girl.”
And of course she is. And always was.
And that’s the thing about love, isn’t it — it makes you feel safe.