I sit and hold Andy in my arms as if he were a tiny baby. I started holding him this way when he was about four weeks old, except that he fit in my hand at the time. I have always called him my kitty baby. There is nothing on earth as touching as a tiny, frightened kitten who finally allows himself to be coaxed into your hand, then offers a huge sigh of contentment upon having his belly rubbed. This is an animal that has given a human his trust, completely and without reservation.
My Andy grew into a fine cat who still loves to lie in my arms the way a human baby would lay. Andy holds his head back so I can easily access the soft, downy fur under his chin. As I gently massage Andy, I look at him intently. He appears to be just as content as he was when I finally convinced him to let me be his surrogate mama. I am holding back tears that will flow after he leaves me.
Andy has always had the freedom to roam the land. He will sleep with me until 3:00 a.m. every morning, then ask to go out so he can be with his feline friends and do the sort of things cats do at night. When his brother died, Andy looked for him for so long that I feared he would never get past the hurt and loneliness. Finally, one morning, Andy did not stop at the door and wait for his brother to enter the house first.
Andy has found a female friend with which he has made a family. I know, cats don’t usually find a mate and stay with her and their kittens. Andy is different. He strongly leans toward the DNA that was written for his ancestors, where the Lion king stays with his pride. He is a good daddy, a strong protector.
Right now, Andy is between two worlds. When he leaves me, he starts to yearn for the touch of my human hand on his head as I stroke him. Yet, when he is with me, he feels a strong pull to go back to his family. In the beginning, he would stay with me for several days, then return to his pride. Now, he comes for a quick meal and an hour in my arms. Then, Andy returns to the wild for a week or more.
I can tell that my Andy is torn between two worlds. He loves his mama, but he needs his independence. Just as human boys grow up and leave mama, Andy is trying to make the break. I can’t tell him that it is okay or that cats are supposed to be wild. Nor can I tell him that I will always be here whenever he feels like visiting. I wish our communication was that sophisticated, but it isn’t. Andy will have to trust that I will always be here and that he is free to live his life as he chooses.
Andy feels as if he is deserting me, but he is only doing what comes natural for cats. As long as he is happy, I will not worry. I stroke his soft fur as he sleeps. Andy sighs. I can’t hold back the tears. I raised him as I would a child. Have I confused him terribly? I can only hope that I have done no harm. I raised him the only way I knew how, with perfect love.