(Feline) Portraits of Resilience: Cherry and Lolita

Those of you who have been following this blog since 2018 or before that, know that Lolita and Cherry came into my life in April of 2018, after an urgent call from the Berlin Animal Shelter, requesting my assistance with two palliative adoptions. (Back story: I am on the list of volunteers for senior palliative adoptions). It has been a most enlightening and entertaining journey with these two ladies, who have transformed into the most supportive and loving housemates I could ever ask for. Cherry will never get rid of her PTSD, but she has come out of her depression, and learned to communicate her needs and wants, but most importantly, learned to trust humans again. Lolita, as you already know, has feline dementia so we have have lucid and not-so-lucid days, but she too has come a long way and has become the alpha cat around here and the main reason we often have opera playing in the background.

These two cats were surrendered at the shelter together, and had to be adopted together, although for the past two years, I always wondered what kind of life they led before, because they are not exactly the best of friends and not emotionally dependent on each other either. The past three weeks, however, have been a revelation and a major turning point. Normally each cat stakes her claim over a cubby or cushion around the house, and Cherry in particular will put as much distance between them as possible. Her motto has always been Separate beds? Yes please, but I prefer rooms. Then all of a sudden she plucked up the courage to sneak some treats out of of Lolita’s cushion while Lolita was was still in it. Since there was no audible objection from the venerable older one, Cherry not only proceeded to clean up all the treats and crumbs, but surprised every one by reaching over and licking Lolita on the head in gratitude. It was such a tender scene that had me speechless and incredibly moved. Cherry took the longest time to express her emotions towards me, so it is a huge step forward for her to express them towards another cat.

Over the next few days I hoped this had not been a fluke nor a one-shot-deal. Much to my delight, it wasn’t and the scene repeated itself, in addition to teaming up and demanding some sort of culinary service from me.
Then yesterday we hit another milestone.
Cherry not only claimed the treats from Lolita, but she also settled down next to her in the cushion for a cuddle. We were absolutely dumbstruck and didn’t dare move from our seats in case we spooked her. Lolita purred happily, as if to say “Well finally! It took you long enough!” They shared a catnap, no hissing or snorting, but incredibly harmonious.

Again, I kept hoping that it would not be a fluke, nor something simply attributed to the cold weather. Today, much to our delight, we had the next episode of this marvellous scene. My heart rejoiced, not just for the willingness of the two senior cats (13 and 15) to take their relationship to another level, but also because I feel my mission of restoring Cherry’s faith in humans and trusting another cat is accomplished.

The most beautiful relationships in life are worth the wait, and these two little angels just reminded me of that. Furthermore, they also prove that although certain traumas of the past will always shadow us, with a lot of love, patience and kindness, healing is always possible with the right companions!

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