The headline photograph shows Millie the cat sitting beside me on the sofa at my former roommate’s house this past Sunday. This photograph may seem ordinary to you, but Millie the cat would not come out from hiding for 13 years of the 15 years that she has been alive.
Millie was the offspring of a barn cat, who was adopted as a kitten by my former roommate’s sister. Possibly because Millie was a barn cat, or possibly because of some kind of personality disorder, Millie was not oriented to humans, and did not become habituated to humans.
Millie would hide, and not come out from hiding when people were around. After several years of not being a social cat, and not being a very good pet, Millie was given to my former roommate’s parents, who were in their late 70s.
Because her new owners were not very able bodied or agile, and did not have very much energy as they aged into their 80s, Millie the cat just stayed hidden in closets, and under beds, because she did not want to be around humans, and no humans came after her to try to get her. Millie wanted things this way, and her owners didn’t try to make her do anything different.
When my former roommate’s parents became 90 years old, they had to move into a nursing home. I helped my roommate move his parents’ furniture and belongings for a couple of days. I heard that there was a cat inside his parents’ two bedroom apartment, but I found this hard to believe, because I had never seen this cat.
On about the third day of moving his parents out of their apartment, my former roommate brought a cat carrying crate into the living room of his house, and dropped it onto the floor. He was so tired from moving furniture, dealing with the apartment landlord, and dealing with the nursing home, that he just dropped the crate on the floor, and didn’t even let the cat out. He didn’t really want this cat.
According to him, this cat was so messed up in the head, no one would want it, you couldn’t get anybody to take it, and if you took it to the animal shelter they would just euthanize it right away, because it was not adoptable, it wasn’t even tame.
When he let the cat out of the crate, it just ran and hid. It stayed hidden for several days. I asked my former roommate if it had escaped because I had not seen it. He said no, it’s here somewhere, it will never go outside, it’s too scared to go outside.
On about the fourth day, I went looking for the cat, and it was hiding under my former roommate’s bed. I said some things to the cat, and it didn’t want to hear anything that I had to say. After about two weeks, the cat would come out and sit on the top of the bed, if no one was around. If you tried to enter the bedroom, it would jump down, and run under the bed.
I would try to sneak up on the cat and grab it, but it would jump down and go under the bed before I could even get to it. On about the fifth week, the cat didn’t get under the bed fast enough, and I caught it by one of its hind legs and tail. I took it out to the living room and it was hissing, scratching, biting, and spitting. I put it down on the sofa, and I tried to pet it, but it got away in less than a minute.
Almost every day, I would try to catch the cat, and it didn’t like it. If it was half asleep, or it didn’t get far enough under the bed, I would reach under the bed after it, grab a leg or its tail, and pull it out. As time passed, I was able to keep this cat with me on the sofa a little longer each day, though it hissed and spit.
After about six months of living with us, when my former roommate and I were watching television and talking, the cat would quietly come out of the bedroom, and sit about six feet behind us. At this time, my roommate decided to name this cat “Millie”, because he said that it acted like a Millie. This cat had not had a name before, though it was about 13 years old.
After about one year of living with us, this cat would come out of the bedroom, sit six feet behind us when we were watching television, and after waiting ten to twenty minutes it would come and act like it wanted to sit on the sofa with me. I would call the cat and coax it, it would hesitate, stretch, and then come and sit on the sofa with me.
I moved out of this house in the Spring of 2017, to move into an apartment building in downtown Dickinson. I have not lived in this house for about one year now. When I go to visit, Millie the cat who is now about 15 years old, will come out of the bedroom, and come and sit with me on the sofa. This most recent visit, Millie liked to be petted and petted, but she was never like this when she was younger, she wouldn’t even come out from hiding when people were around.