Marking Safe

We recently adopted a three legged, black cat. We now have three cats and two of our cats have three legs. I will definitely share more about all of that and about our newest addition another time.

If you have ever tried to acclimate a new cat into a home with existing cats, you understand that it is quite a process. It can take days or even weeks before the cats feel safe enough to be in the same room together.

This little, new guy was hit by a car in late September and had his leg amputated before going into a foster home. He’s been through some serious trauma, watching him reminds me that we’ve all been through some serious trauma this year. He is very jumpy if he hears unexpected noises and is understandably afraid when he sees a car pass by our front windows.

He is also, despite it all, very trusting of us and our other cats and is deeply affectionate. I was warned when I adopted him that he enjoys bumping his face up against your face. He does this multiple times a day, every single day. He touches his face to our faces and tries to brush his face up against our other cats’ faces too.

I became curious as to why, so I took to the internet, of course, and discovered multiple sources which shared that when cats brush their face on your face, they are marking you as “safe” for them. Cats experience much of the world through their sense of smell. So, when they brush their face on you, they are putting their smell on you, so they can smell that you are safe. And with faces, it’s supposed to mean that they really like you and really want to remember that you are a safe person.

Marking safe.

I try to remember this when his fur gets stuck in my lip gloss or when that affection feels like a bit of an inconvenience, but there is no reasoning with our other cats. Today, I caught him trying to rub his face on our other three legged cat, Tripp, who hurried away from him. I felt so sad that he wanted to show Tripp how much he enjoys him, and that he feels that Tripp is a safe cat for him. Then, I got to thinking about Tripp, and it made me giggle to insert fictional commentary from Tripp. It was as if Tripp was saying, “Nah, you’re not safe with me yet. You should be a little scared.” Haha, well, at least he’s honest.

Marking safe.

You know, this concept of marking safe has me thinking a lot about all of us this past year. We are tired. We are weary. We are exhaused because we’ve spent perhaps more of our thought lives than ever “marking safe.”

We are constantly having to mentally decide what is safe or unsafe and then mark it in our heads.

  • I cleaned that – safe.
  • I used hand sanitizer – safe.
  • I’m wearing a mask – safe.
  • I’m more than 6 feet away (wait is that 6 feet?) – safe-ish
  • I’m tucked away in my home – safe.

The list goes on…

It is necessary…and exhausting all at the same time.

No wonder our new little guy sleeps all the time, marking safe takes a toll. Mentally, physically, emotionally.

But he bravely shows up again the next day, and he marks safe. It is clear that he is happiest in my arms, having marked my face as safe. With me, he is both safe and held.

My greatest wish for all of us in upcoming days and in the New Year is that we find the strength to continue showing up with our whole hearts and that we feel both safe and held.

Love, peace, and rest to you and yours this holiday season.

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