I was telling my husband the story of how Art3mis reached out and touched me and before I got to the point where I said that I cried, he interrupted me and said: "you cried, didn't you?"
So, now that I have touched her, and she has touched me, what's next? Just how far would that trust extend? How much am I willing to risk losing some blood and push? Apparently quite a bit.
She still growls at me when I walk in the room, and she growls at me when I lay down in front of the couch, but once she sees it is me she stops. I can even talk to her now without being told off which is nice. She is still not a fan of my taking her kittens away from her, but as long as they don't mew she puts up with it - and I try not to keep them out too long. For some reason, all of the kittens calm down once I put them on Happy Bear.
So, I thought I might try to expand on the foot touching. I spent a good amount of time reaching out to her and imagining scratching her ears. I formed the mental picture in my mind and then let the image wander where it would go. I imagined scratching all of the favored spots on my own cats, but we kept coming back to the ears for some reason. I like to believe in animal communication and I like to believe that I have a very primitive ability to do it, so I assumed that scratching her ears would be okay.
But that is a lot of assumptions to risk my fingers on so I proceeded very cautiously. This is what happened in fifteen minutes or so condensed down to a minute and a half.
Last night I tried it again, but I wasn't able to scratch her ears, probably because I skipped the visualization step. I offered her some food and she ate it. I then asked her if I could visit her on the side of the couch - something she has not allowed before. I told her what I was going to do, and then I did it. I moved the baby gate away from the side of the couch, which she has always growled at before, and she just looked at me. I sat down and asked if I could reach in and then I reached in and she did not growl. I reached in further and she just looked at me. I asked if I could touch her leg, and she said she was uncomfortable with that by pulling her leg in toward herself. I talked more about just touching her like I did when I was in the front of the couch and she started to relax, so I asked again. She didn't move, so I slowly reached in, and she curled herself around her kittens. I backed off and asked her again, I asked if I could just touch her leg once, and I waited until she relaxed again and when she did I slowly went in for one more try. She slowly contracted up as I slowly approached, and I very gently ran my fingertips over her leg as she contracted herself around her kittens... so more progress. Nothing huge, but considering just a few days ago I didn't think any of this was possible, it is very nice.