This has been a very interesting few days, and what it has revealed to me.

So I'm technically not supposed to have pets in my apartment. Right when I moved in, I asked after this to my land-lord, a dog lover. I told him that I suffered from depression, at times severely, and that I was hoping to have a cat at some point (at that time hoping I could take one of my then-current cats with me: specifically, the one that I rescued and named). I told him that me without a cat would be like him without his dog, to whit he replied "That bad, huh?" He assured me that I could have a cat if I really wanted one.

It was decided that the cat I had in mind wouldn't be able to come live with me. I understated or under-appreciated just how much this hurt me at the time. She was one of the few sources of joy and emotional support that I had while going through the deep pain of my divorce; something I did essentially by myself while at the same time having to keep a brave face while being an emotional protector and recovery aide to my step-daughter. The cat was always there, always wanting me to hold her, snuggle her and be near her. Most importantly, she was my constant companion through what felt like countless cold and lonely nights, always hopping into bed shortly before or after I did, ready to snuggle down with me under the covers as the winter wind howled, and I ached inside.

When I had to leave her behind, I knew it would hurt. I told myself it was for the best, and on one level that was true. But on another, I didn't care. I was giving up so much, and to add insult to injury, I had to give up the cat I brought in off the street and named myself. The one who bonded with me. The one who seemed to always love me when everything else seemed to be going to hell. The one I loved so much.

The summer/fall has been one of great tumult, to say the least. Great emotional highs and lows. Things are leveling off, and I feel better to a degree, but I know that with winter comes S.A.D for me, and this year may be harder than before for a number of reasons, but mostly due to the fact that I have no car of my own right now, and will be stuck in my apartment quite a bit of the time. So while on a recent run-about project with my landlord, I asked agan about getting a cat. The issue has never been him; it's been his wife. She hates cats. But he says "Well, it seems that my name is on the house, and she got that name from me, so if I say you can have a cat, just get one. If we get caught, I'll deal with it."

So with money I didn't have, I went down to the Cat Adoption Team shelter in Sherwood last Friday. I'd seen an all-black cat (a soft-spot of mine) on their site that was listed as very friendly once she warmed up if given a quiet space. Well, my flat is pretty much the epitome of that, and since she'd been declawed by a previous owner, I figured the furniture and carpet was safe. So I picked up Jasmine last Friday afternoon.

I was so looking forward to having cat energy back in my life. To say that I'm a "cat person" is like saying "I like music" about me. Dramatic understatement. One of my greatest joys in life the past ten years was moving out here and living with someone who loved cats as much as I did. I'd only had cats as a child, and they were farm cats: indoor/outdoor mousers to whom tragedy would almost always befall. I'd not had a cat of my own since about age 10 or so. I had a wonderful dog for many years, and had recently tried life with a dog again that went terribly (just the wrong dog at the wrong time--I did find him a great home) so I was keen to have a cat again to fill the void left in my life by having to let go of my kitties from my marriage.

The short form is: this ain't working, and is actually making me feel worse.

Jasmine has been here since Friday afternoon. She refuses to socialize at all. She'd much rather hide in the darkness. She will never come out of her hiding-places, even though she seems to like being petted. She doesn't like being held. She doesn't like to be near people, and only barely tolerates people approaching her. She is eating and using the box fine, but aside from that, has very little use for me or my daughter. This feels more like tennancy in a sub-let situation. It's actually rather upsetting.

I didn't anticipate this at all, but I see it clear as day now why this is so upsetting to me. I'm well aware that rescue cats often take time to warm up and establish a report with new owners--even those that are true-blue cat people. I've been fortunate enough to have helped save a number of cats from the street over the past 10 years--and have been blessed to have grow close to two of them. And therein lies the rub. Jasmine is the spitting image of my former black-cat snuggle partner. I made the mistake of adopting a kitty that looks JUST like my old cat that I miss so much. Obviously, I did this as a subconscious expression of my missing and wanting my old kitty back so much. But this is like the cloning paradox: you may be able to have the physicality of something again, but the personality is something wholly and totally different.

This cat hurts me to be around. It looks so much like my old cat, yet wants nothing whatsoever to do with me apart from keeping the food dish managed. It doesn't hate me, or hiss at me or anything overt, but at the same time its manner and want of attention is so drastically different that it makes me feel like my old cat that I miss so much is back in my life, but wants nothing to do with me anymore. This is like a strange cat-lover's nightmare, except that Rod Serling never shows up to give some twisted explanation.

I have made arrangements to return Jasmine to the shelter tomorrow. I know that part of me is sad for her: I am a very tolerant, understanding and accepting cat person, and there's part of me that knows that if a cat doesn't respond to me (seriously, all cats seem to love me) the chances are slim that she will be well suited to anyone else. At the same time, though, I have faith in the C.A.T. and know if Jasmine has any kind of chance to find happiness, it'll be through them.

It has been an odd and upsetting, but powerful and over-all positive practice lesson regarding preconceptions and attachments, and I bow to the Bodhisattva that is Jasmine for teaching me that you can't go home again, and that being steered there via emotional auto-pilot is something to be ever wary of.

Dev says I should go orange. We'll see...