When living on borrowed time, you learn to be grateful for every hour and each day that you are able to share. This is something I learned with my parents as they aged and their health declined rapidly, beyond anyone’s control. The same is true for Kessy.

The transformative power of love is very much in action with this senior cat. She may be 15, but three weeks after living with us she has become a completely different cat, and her personality is shining through. There are shades of abuse though, and I don’t think I can ever heal those emotional wounds in such a short time. You can’t even do that for humans, let alone animals who cannot tell their stories.

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Three-week wonder ©MTHerzog

Perhaps that is what allows Champagne and Kessy to be friends. It has fascinated me from the beginning why these two cats get along so well in spite of their age and cultural backgrounds. Champagne also came to me from a miserable and abusive situation, and it took an entire year to get her to trust us to return home if she was left alone. With Kessy it is a similar situation. She needs reassurance that she is not going to be taken away the next day or put back in a cage. She loves to cuddle and shows her gratitude as often as she can, but boxing her in, even by accident, makes her feral.

The ghosts of abuse and neglect make an appearance in the smallest ways with my two cats. Champagne panics when shouted at, even with just the slightest raised voice, and Kessy cowers in fear with raised hands. These are the times I am grateful they can’t talk.

What breaks my heart is that she is so compliant with medicine. She is so used to being handled in a way that the syringe can be inserted in her mouth that she just takes it all in. The grumpiness that follows thereafter, however, is always a good sign. Kessy has put on weight, and even though she remains the world’s fussiest eater, she does have a good enough appetite to munch on her kibble the whole day. When I run my hand along her ribcage it no longer feels as though I’m stemming a guitar. She’s due for a check-up next week, so I can’t wait to see the expression on the vets at the Berlin Animal Shelter when they see her again (Kessy is entitled to life-long free medical services at the shelter).