2024 – The Year of the Shadow

Shadow napping on the couch.

According to the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year, 2024 is the year of the Wood Dragon. While I certainly don’t want to minimize the importance of this ancient custom, I must respectfully say that in our house, it is the year of the Shadow. Why? Because that little black cat of ours that showed up as a kitten in our driveway a little over 4 years ago, in November 2023, has done something we never thought we’d see: he came onto the couch one morning with me and settled in for a nap!

It might not seem like much on the surface, but it’s a big deal. A really big deal. Never once in the time he’s been part of our household has he felt comfortable enough to do that. For those that might not know, or remember, when he came to Dan and me, we suspected that he had probably been abused by someone and subsequently abandoned.

He had feral tendencies, as well as significant trust issues, and acclimating him into our multi-cat household has been challenging to say the least. Except for Jazmine, the others eventually welcomed him, or more so, tolerated him with the understanding there wasn’t much they could do about his presence, and it wasn’t worth making a fuss over it.

Over the years, we’ve been able to pet him and brush him without him biting or scratching us like he used to, but the extent of his interaction in the household as far as napping has primarily been limited to solitary snoozing on our kitchen windowsill or occasional ventures into our bedroom. His need to feel safe and unthreatened guided his every moment, so when he jumped onto the couch with me, I silently cried. I did not pet him, as I knew even the slightest attention could cause him to run, but I was at least able to grab a photo.

In the weeks to follow, he occasionally took to napping on the couch with Mia, Peanut, and Rolz by his side. Admittedly, it was a bit tenuous. If one of them realized he was next to them, there has been fighting. But still, it’s progress.

Shadow with Mia, Peanut, and Rolz.

He’s also ventured out of his comfort zone and taken to napping on the settee next to Dan during the day, and at night, in our spare bedroom (meaning he must walk past 6 cats to get there). He was also willing to give up his beloved kitchen windowsill for Rolz, content to sleep on the counter next to him (of course, I brought him a towel to make sure he was comfortable).

Shadow on the settee next to where Dan works during the day.

Shadow sleeping in the guest bedroom.

Shadow sharing his beloved windowsill with Rolz.

I wish I could say that napping on the couch was an everyday thing. It’s somewhat random and has been occurring less frequently of late, but honestly, any small step is a victory. I also wish the photos were of better quality, but when you are dealing with a skittish cat, you don’t have time for perfect lighting or a perfect setting.

Anyhow, for the rest of the world, yes, it’s the Year of the Wood Dragon. But at our house, we’re grateful to celebrate the Year of the Shadow!

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  1. That is very good news! Some cats take longer with their small steps, but progress is definitely welcome. Happy Year of the Shadow!

  2. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    all thingz in time buddy, happee ewe R
    startin two settle mor N heerz hopin de yeer
    oh de shadow bringz lotz oh grate things yur
    way ?? mackerull

  3. Comedy Plus says:

    It is a big deal. We have Lil’ Bit that has feral tendencies too. Calming down as time passes. We have to be patient. You’re patient and so are we. Beautiful post.

    Thank you for joining the Awww Mondays Blog Hop.

    Have a fabulous Awww Monday and week. Scritches to the kitties. ♥

  4. Sue Brandes says:

    I say any little steps are wonderful. I think Jake was abused too. Took him a long time to trust. Even longer with me. Bonded with son first.

  5. Rosemary Lewis says:

    We have had Cookie for 8 years She is a beautiful long haired tuxedo aged 13. . She spent her first 5 years living on the campus of a high school in a feral colony. I fed the colony and she was tnr’d. The school wanted the cats gone so I trapped her again and brought her in. She bonded with one of our other cats, but when he passed away A year ago she started sleeping on a couch. 6 months ago she started to let us pet her and sit next to her. She also sits in front of the fireplace and watched TV with us. . I understand what a big event this is!!!

  6. jmuhj says:

    The photos are beautiful, especially the group pic! And this IS big news. Hoping there continues to be more and more bravery and closeness. Yes, trust takes time. *Snorgles on Shadow from me!* <3

  7. Leah says:

    Oh that is such great news! What a beautiful kitty, I do love the black kitties. We, and my late Mom too, took in some cats who were feral and/or standoffish, over the years. Some became snuggly, but it did take time. A few remained aloof, which was okay, we loved them and were just happy they were safe. And, a student who lived in my late Mom’s house tamed an ear-tipped feral and adopted her. So, Shadow could certainly become even friendlier!

  8. Kitties Blue says:

    Deb, I absolutely loved reading this. Maybe there is hope for our Raleigh. He will sleep on our bed with his sis, Audrey, but only gets up after all the lights are out and he is certain we are asleep. Tom has been able to pet him a couple of times. If I put my hand down to him, he backs away and then swats at it. He is back to letting me put his food dish down in front of him, but if I try to get near him otherwise, he runs. When Kizmet let him outside a few months back (long story), I was certain we would never see him again. When he showed up at 3 a.m. wanting to come in, I was totally shocked. A big congratulations on Shadow’s progress. I hope I can expect the same from Raleigh sometime in the future. XOCK, angels Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta & Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth, Calista Jo, Cooper Murphy, Sawyer, Kizmet, Audrey & Raleigh

  9. Charles Huss says:

    That is great. I am glad to see shadow warming up. I’m sure it is a coincidence, but we had two black cats that were both somewhat nervous. The most timid was our first black cat that we named Flash because if you tried to pet him he was gone in a flash. He eventually warmed up to me but not my wife. You can imagine her dismay when my mom came to visit for a week. My wife and I left the house for a couple of hours and came back to Flash napping on my mom’s lap.

  10. Yes, yes, yes, that is a really BIG deal for you and for Shadow!

  11. alice Jena says:

    this gives me a bit of hope for Ziggy…I recently saved him from the street also. He is a large black Tom. Now he is neutered; but the 15 year old Burmese mix, Wyatt, and the wonderful cow cat/white & black; Zane, and the runty, hoarding situation, black cat, Zipper; are not happy with this greedy big guy.

    He also suffered from diarrhea; which I assume, increases his appetite. Thus he steals the food from the three others, and I have to play food-cop!

  12. Ellen J Pilch says:

    Glad Shadow is finally settling in.

  13. meowmeowmans says:

    That IS a big deal, Deb. We wholeheartedly celebrate with you and Shadow!

  14. Mee-yow way to go Shadow!!! You are makin progress!!
    Miss Deb you must be sue-purr thrilled! When efurr mee doess sumthin ‘domesticated’ BellaSite Mum praisess mee an singss to mee a makess such a fuss!! Mew mew mew…..
    ***purrss*** BellaDharma an {{{hugss}}} BellaSita Mum

  15. We enjoy our cats too. We have 4 that were all strays that we rescued because their young mama abandoned them.