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Can’t touch this! Poppy needs her space

March 24, 2015

Ready for her closeup!

Poppy is a beautiful bicolour cat of the “mask and mantle” variety that I met last week as she sunned herself in the parking lot behind the building she lives in on 13th Avenue.

She put on a show of utter cuteness for me: rolling this way and that, stretching her legs in the air and watching me with glistening almond-shaped eyes. She appeared to be basking as much in my attention as in the warm sunshine — too adorable!


It’s a good day to be a cat!

From a distance she looked like a typically happy, well-fed, well-looked after and well loved Fairview house cat. But as soon as I got closer to her, I…

Well, I actually couldn’t get closer to her. Whenever I tried, she would calmly get up and move away from me in order to maintain a distance of about five feet and then she would resume cavorting in the sunshine!

Someone abused the privilege of pet ownership


What’s wrong with this picture? Absolutely nothing.

Poppy walks with a lopsided, hopping gait and it’s understandable why when you see that one of her front legs has been amputated — a result of the terrible physical abuse that she suffered at the hands of a former owner.

You can also see how she naturally and easily compensates for the loss when she walks and runs. What you can’t see is the deep emotional damage she suffered from the abuse or exactly how she deals with it.

The way the brain compensates for and tries to heal such invisible wounds can be baffling to us because it’s such a black box and denies us of any easy glimpse of the cause and effect process, like we get with the physical injury of a missing leg.


Did you say her name was “Hoppy”?

We have to trust that however Poppy acts — however a victim of abuse acts — in large measure those actions reflect an attempt by the brain to make things better for Poppy, i.e. the victim of abuse.

The brain always tries to compensate in order to maintain physical or emotional functionality: bypassing a damaged nerve here, in order to restore necessary skin sensitivity or adjusting the balance there, to account for a missing limb; or similarly, rerouting emotional input/outputs so as to make up for a damaged psyche.

Poppy may have completely lost her trust in people and learned to keep her distance from them but she is still lovable and loving. She will still be able to experience joy and satisfaction. She will even (in her way) be able to bond with her new owners.

At the moment, Poppy is happy to eat the food that they give her so long as they keep their distance.

The couple that has adopted her is fine with this arrangement. They intend to give her a safe home and lots of unconditional love, with no expectations whatsoever. If, in time, they can win her trust, all the better.

Being cared for by a couple of big-hearted caretakers


Content, relaxed and wary.

Poppy is one of three cats adopted from the B.C. SPCA by an older couple I know, who just happen to be a couple of the Fairview neighbourhood’s more prolific building caretakers.

I have no idea how many buildings they look after but on any given day the two of them can usually be seen making their separate ways all over the dense core of the neighbourhood; to and from this or that apartment building and, to one degree or another, they’ve been doing this — looking after Fairview apartment buildings — for at least 40 years.

I think of them and the other hands-on caretakers and building managers of Fairview — all with characteristic love for their buildings and easy familiarity with taking good care of them — as the constant beating heart of what is largely a neighbourhood of transient renters.

I’ve known this caretaker couple for all the years that I’ve been a homeless “resident” of Fairview. It just underlines what kind of people they are that they choose to adopt their pets from the SPCA. They do so without fanfare because they love giving the cats and dogs a second chance at a happy life.

Though, at the moment they are a household of two people and only three cats.

They had a dog for about a year: a golden collie. She was very friendly whenever I visited but then. as the couple would point out, I didn’t have to live with her.  I was told that she was a perpetual bundle of nerves and couldn’t stand being cooped up in an apartment. Last summer the couple finally admitted defeat and found a new owner for the beautiful dog — a younger person with more energy and patience, not to mention a larger property. Click the images to enlarge them.

Poppy...without the zoom.

Poppy…without the zoom.

From → Fairview

  1. Sandra permalink

    Oh-oh, rolling all around like that is also an indicator of a cat being in heat. I hope that the SPCA or Poppy’s new family has had her spayed.


    • I’ll be sure to ask next time I see her people.


      • Slowcrow permalink

        Or maybe its leary of the woman that collects dead cat pictures……. Just saying…. 😦


      • Three comments ago (February 8) you were distressed about “dead cats and kittens pix” but darned if I understood how it related to my content. Do I have an evil and offensive post I don’t know about?


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