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In the two weeks (wow, how did that happen?) since I last updated you on Chrysanthemum — a.k.a. Kissy — and her integration into the Paws and Effect family, a lot of wonderful things have happened.

Last weekend was the first time I had the door between Kissy’s room and the rest of the house open all day. Most of the time she was, and still is, content to spend much of her time in the bed I jerry-rigged for her with a cardboard box, a sofa pillow and a couple of towels. But each day she’s been coming out of her room to explore a little deeper into the rest of the apartment.

Kissy accepts a pettie

Kissy accepts a pettie ... in the living room!

We had a minor setback last Saturday, when Kissy made her way all the way to the bathroom, which is very small and located in the back corner of my home. She got cornered in there, with Siouxsie and Thomas glaring at her from the top of the range (Thomas) and the counter by the kitchen sink (Siouxsie). She would have had to run through the narrow chasm between the stove and the sink, and she just wasn’t read to chance it. Then Thomas hopped down and approached Kissy, who was hunkered down on top of the toilet tank.

I heard the growling and its rising intensity, so I went to intervene before things could get out of hand. Unfortunately, the situation descended into a cacaphony of shrieks and claws desperately scrabbling to get a grip on polished wood floors, and Kissy went rocketing by me, straight back into her room, and hid in the closet.

About 20 minutes of closed-door time allowed everybody to chill out, and there were no further incidents that day, or for the rest of the weekend.

Kissy confidently explores the living room

Kissy's out and looking around. Look at that tail held high!

Things were going so well that on Monday I decided to leave the door open all night. But before I went to bed that night, I sat down with Kissy and had a very serious talk. “This is your forever home,” I told her. “You belong here. You’re part of my family.”

My heart simultaneously broke and swelled with love as my grief for Dahlia and my love for my new family member came together in a whirl of overwhelming emotion. I started crying.

“I’d always heard legends about forever homes. The cats in the shelter would whisper from cage to cage about loving hands and soft beds and bowls full of delicious food. But I used to think it was all a fairy tale to distract us from the smell of death down the hall and the wails of sick cats and barking and yowling of dogs. It wasn’t until my kittens and I got pulled from the shelter that I began to have even the slightest hope that this forever home thing was real. But now I know it is. It is real, all you cats in the shelters watching through the bars or the windows as people walk by and look at you — maybe even play with you. Don’t despair, forever homes are real!”
~ Kissy, on the Paws and Effect Facebook page, June 6, 2012

Kissy started rubbing my hand and purring louder than I’d ever heard her purr. And I think there were several head-bonks where I felt evidence that maybe her eyes were leaking a little bit, too.

Since then, Kissy’s been coming out of her room regularly and exploring the whole house. Most of the time she goes wherever I go, hiding behind me like a shy toddler behind his mom’s legs. But every day she’s getting braver. And today, I even caught her venturing to the kitchen and beyond — while Siouxsie was sitting in my lap, as she’s doing right now while I type this post.

Kissy in the kitchen

Here she is, in the kitchen by the pet fountain. Brave girl!

Go, Kissy, go! I’m so proud of you! Before you know it, you’ll be sitting on the couch with us enjoying movie night!

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