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I had lost my beloved Holstein-cat Rocky in December of 2012 to heart failure. He was only ten years old. Our remaining cat, Paddy, had never been an only cat before and was lonely. I wanted a playmate for him and another cat in my life, soin February of 2013 I went to the local shelter's nearest office. A beautiful, jet-black teenage boy kitty caught my eye, but I worried about introducing a teenager to my sedate, middle-aged Paddy. Besides, I thought he might like a girl for a playmate. (I might have been wrong there.) So the staff introduced me to Mary, a rotund 2-year-old tabby.

Mary didn't reject my advances, but she didn't welcome them either. She just sat there, hunched up, and accepted gentle petting. Her body language was that of one who had endured too much, and expected life to never get any better. As someone who has suffered from depression in the past, I connected. She needed a home and some love. She would come home with me. Because we had a human Mary in our lives, her name eventually morphed into Maria.

It soon was apparent that she had a very troubled past. She was terrified of being picked up, or of anyone sitting or laying too close. The only petting that felt safe was on her cheeks, and a bit on her back. She mostly hid for a few days, but then came out and started following me around... and what has happened since has been a long, slow turnaround. She learned that food was consistent and reliable, that attention would happen when she wanted it, that no one would hit her for any reason. She's almost figured out that it is safe to be held. She is now a lively, outgoing cat who bosses Paddy, teases us, and is very loving, though she'll never be a cuddler. But she has a home where she can be free from the trauma of her early life.

Santa Clara, CA

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