“So, as we reach the fork in the road today, let us fearlessly follow the voice of intuition. The Bible calls it ‘the still small voice.'”
-Florence Scovel Shinn-
Here I am again, at a fork in the road, deciding the fate of a cat I adopted and took complete responsibility for. Or am I? Have I really just arrived or did this fork appear over a year ago? Is it me deciding Atticus’ fate or was his fate already decided and my role was to listen and let go?
The ‘still small voice’ whispered quietly a few months ago after another night of Atticus chasing, tackling, stalking Mortimor. Another night of Adeline, the new kitten, hiding under the couch as chaos ensued. Another night of Mortimor screaming out, running away, desperate for peace and ease in his own home. Another night of being on constant alert, watching Atticus’ body language, ready at a moments notice, awake or asleep, to quickly intervene and try to tame Atticus’ territorial drive to rid our home of Mortimor.
The ‘voice’ was more of a feeling, an internal knowing or thought, that filled my heart with sorrow as I looked into Atticus’ eyes and knew this was not his furever home. Every night after a chase, I could see in his eyes that he himself knew he was out of control, a slave to this adrenaline fueled aggressive loop his was stuck in and wanted desperately to be free of.
I dismissed the small voice as my ego stepped in and scolded me for such a thought. My ego screamed- how could you even consider giving up your fur child? You haven’t done all you could do, you haven’t done enough. If this was your human child, would you just find him another home when he acts up? Poor you, you’re tired from sleepless nights, relentless stress and all your energy depleted from trying to solve this. Money is no object, keep spending all of it on additional toys, cat trainers, vet visits. I have failed Atticus. I am a failure. I couldn’t make the situation work. I didn’t try hard enough. My ego would not let me listen to that small voice, that already knew there was a beautiful plan in place for the highest good of everyone involved. Listening to that voice to my ego meant failure and not being able to control the potential outcome.
Despite my exhaustion, and the stress on all of the cats, I listened to my ego and continued to spend a lot of time and money trying to fix an unfixable situation until the last resort kept becoming yet another last resort. With a 2 week trip to Europe approaching quickly, I was full of fear over what might happen while I was away; if I’d be returning to some disaster. How could I live with myself if one of them gets seriously injured because I couldn’t make peace with my ego and listen to my intuition instead?
The stress of the situation drained all of my enthusiasm for the trip. Each night as the attacks intensified, I was becoming desperate for a solution. The final solutions came down to medicating Atticus, a young kitty only 1 1/2 years old, finding a more suitable home or hoping somehow it’d work itself out and no one gets injured. I couldn’t get on board with medicating him for simply being a cat. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. He got along perfectly with Adeline, who is a female and younger. Despite having a kitten to wear him out, somehow Atticus had a reserve of energy to constantly harass Mortimor.
The still small voice yells very loudly when you refuse to listen. 2 nights before my trip, with no solution, Atticus went after Mortimor worse than ever before. I sobbed after pulling Atticus away, looking into his eyes demanding why he was doing this, yelling so loudly on the inside ‘I need help, I can’t do this anymore!’ And neither could the cats. 2 days before my trip and I hadn’t even packed yet.
Earlier that week while talking with Deborah, my Mom’s best friend, she commented on how drained I sounded and have sounded for over a year. Knowing me and the situation, she gently suggested rehoming as an option which initially I refused would ever be an option…until a few days later when it clearly, undoubtedly became the only and best option. With a heavy heart I called Deborah, the day before my trip and operating on 1 hour of sleep, and told her what I (and she) knew all along- that Atticus was meant for another home. I was meant only to foster him while his furever home was getting ready to receive him. Deborah knows my soul- the pain this acceptance caused me and how I’d defy fate to make it not so- and she lovingly gave me permission to let Atticus go. She knows I left no stone unturned, that I was running myself ragged and it was getting worse for all involved. And just like that, within 24 hours of pleading with the God for help and letting go of control, the God made a way where there was no way before.
T-minus 18 hours to take off, a woman I met in June at a class contacted me out of the blue to see how the cat situation was. I told her the truth of how it had been going and without even asking, Leah graciously extended a helping hand, offering to take in Atticus for the duration of my trip. This would alleviate my worry of leaving him alone with Mortimor. She has a little 5lb dog named Bentley and we had no idea how Atticus would get along with him but she had faith and was willing to see.
T-minus 8 hours to take off- I still hadn’t packed for the trip. Trusting God, I packed up Atticus with all of his favorite toys, a scratching post, litter box, bowls, food and headed over to Leah’s. Immediately after opening his carrier, Atticus was enthusiastically exploring his new home, with the happiest look in his eyes I had ever seen. Bentley was quite curious and a few barks and swats later, they became fast friends during those 2 weeks. Bentley was used to being the only fur child but is getting used to his new fluffy, spunky brother. Leah never had a cat before but fell in love with Atticus so much so that she adopted him! She felt it was fate that brought me and her together which in turn brought Atticus and her together. She too sees how amazing he is and can understand how difficult it was for me to let him go.
A few takeaways – listen to that ‘still small voice’ or else prepare your heart for a lot of heartache and anxiety. Don’t judge others lest you will find yourself being judged, for real. A few years ago my Mom told me they had to put down their cat, Sikes, who they rescued from a construction site as a kitten. The cat was feral and all efforts to domesticate Sikes weren’t working. It became apparent Sikes had a neurological disorder making him a danger to himself and others. When my Mom made the painful decision to put Sikes down, in my mind I judged her harshly. Did she really do everything she could? How could she just kill a cat like that? Surely it couldn’t have been that bad. I know my Mom and she would never make a decision like that lightly and probably tore herself apart at the thought of it. Yet here I was, someone not knowing anything of the situation, what it was like to walk in her shoes, judging her decision as though it was wrong and thoughtless. Only to find myself in a similar position a few years later, now fully understanding the pain and fear of judgment for making a decision to follow divine guidance and trust. If you’re like me, it takes getting to the “eleventh” hour and practically being forced to let go of control and step aside to allow God takeover. But as I listen more attentively to that still small voice more, perhaps I will let go at the the tenth hour instead.
“I am divinely led, I follow the right fork in the road. God makes a way where there is no way” – Florence Scovel Shinn
**This article was inspired by and dedicated to Leah for her open, abundant heart. To Deborah for giving me permission to let go and let God. To my Mom for orchestrating it all from the clouds and bringing both souls into my life. To Atticus for bringing incredible joy and love into my life, and now into Leah’s. **