Running for the dungeon.

22 Apr 2014

Back in February, an elderly friend of the family passed away suddenly. He had no next of kin and left no will. His house and all its contents were soon to be passed over, unceremoniously, to local government.

Mark, however, also had two cats, whom I know he adored. They were to meet certain doom unless homes could be found and quick. A kindly neighbour took in one and mum and I the other. Binky the elder. (Although, in all honesty, we needed another cat like we needed a hole in the head.)

Poor Binky had already endured a stressful couple of weeks and by the time he arrived here, without anything of everything he had ever known, he was wide eyed with fear.

As we have done with all waifs and strays we've helped in the past, we set up a comfy corner in the cellar (it's a nice cellar) allowing him to become accustomed to us, as well as all the scents and sounds of the house, before introducing him to our two other cats. Alas, all did not go to plan. We had completely underestimated poor Binky's terror and he somehow squeezed through a tiny tunnel in the cellar ceiling. This was a new and worrying development.

We left out food and water, of he which he availed himself but never when we were around. Two days later, I realised that I could get to Binky by crawling through 3 holes under the floorboards. (Fact: iphones have an excellent built in torch!) Now at the other end of the tunnel, it was still impossible to reach Binky but at least I could now talk to his face. I took care to blink softly at him. (Also known as 'cat kissey's'. Never stare at a cat you are trying to befriend. Blink. Fake yawns also indicate friendliness.)

It was a funny thing sat there under the house, amidst dust and soil that hasn't seen the light of day for well over a century. Sounds from the four floors above became dulled and distorted and yet, in a strange way, noises felt louder and more intimidating. How similar to a depression, I thought. You know there is life going on around you, life you could be part of even, but choked in your own darkness, everything becomes muffled. Inaccessible.

And how too, we 'bite the hand that feeds us' so to speak. We may react to well meaning family/friends like an injured, frightened animal - with snarls, hisses, growls; It becomes impossible to distinguish between someone trying to help and someone trying to hurt us, so we feel its safer to withdraw completely.

Well, the saga went on. We had moments of panic. Should we rip up the bathroom floor or tear down the cellar ceiling? As the RSPCA wisely said though, while he has access to food and water and is in no immediate danger, there's not much to be done but show patience.

Like Binky, when we're depressed, we'll run for the dungeon, pull up the drawbridge and withdraw into the darkness. We all know there are things that can help, like eating properly and regularly, but there are some depressions that cling to us like a bad smell and it's all we can do to just sit tight and allow for it to pass.

After several weeks of frequently sitting in the bowels of the house, blinking and yawning like an idiot, hopes of ever gaining Binky's trust began to recede. At last, one day, he started to slowly stay, albeit momentarily, out of his hole. Then, all at once, he allowed his barriers to melt. Binky cautiously ate some ham from my hand and the rest was history. Purring as loud as an engine, he seemed determined to make up for all the loneliness he must surely have felt in recent weeks. Jumping on my lap, greeting me enthusiastically. What a beautiful, beautiful moment that was.

Often you know, we humans, demand things, life, feelings, situations, to be fixed. Instantly. Sometimes though, a handful of acceptance and a sprinkling of patience are the requirement of the day. Binky ventured out of his dungeon. And so will we.

For pictures of Binky you can scoot across to


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