It feels so good to have Minnie back home. I’m not sure why it should make such a difference in how I feel, but once she got home it seemed like things were normal again. Lenore came over to Minnie’s crate with a stuffed animal in her mouth, Red completely ignored her, as usual. And Frieda, well, even though Frieda wasn’t literally licking her chops, I knew what was on her mind. Nothing different there.
When I opened the crate, Minnie crawled into my lap. I took the cone off her head and scratched her neck and she purred like she was on high speed. She has her usual voracious appetite for food and affection. She’s even grooming herself (I watch her when I take her cone off to make sure she doesn’t work at the stitches) all signs of a healthy cat.
I never imagined spending so much money on a cat, but when Jon and I talked about it, we both agreed that more than anything our decision to go ahead with the surgery was less practical and more intuitive. When Izzy had cancer I had no doubt that he should be put down as soon as possible to keep him from suffering. With Minnie it just felt like she had a lot more life in her. I never felt like she wouldn’t be just fine with three legs instead of four.
I think that’s why it was confusing for me. I’ve known lots of animals with three legs who don’t seem to know the difference. And I got tons of emails from people telling me their stories about their three-legged dogs and cats. Not one of them regretted keeping their pet alive or even spoke of the animal not being able to adjust. And I don’t believe Minnie has a sense of loss or regret in the way a human might.
So intellectually and intuitively I knew Minnie would be fine, but I was still feeling a huge amount of sadness and grief. I knew it didn’t make sense to feel it and yet still I did. I couldn’t help putting myself in her place and imagining what she might be feeling. I kept thinking that she was no longer Minnie, now she was the cat with three legs. I thought of all the things she might not be able to do again, like climb trees and sit on the fence post, what if she couldn’t hop up on the rocker. I told myself that people go through much worse and I should be feeling for them, not a cat. I knew it was a projection and didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that I was thinking these things and feeling what I was feeling, which only made my misery worse.
It was only last night, when I spilled what I was feeling, all in a jumble of words and tears to Jon, that I started to feel better. It still amazes me how each time I speak the words out loud, how when I’m heard, it actually makes a difference in how I feel. And now with Minnie home it seems the worse is over. From now on Minnie will do what she can and not what she can’t. And I can see, she’s not the three-legged cat, but Minnie, who happens to have three legs instead of four. I don’t know what she’s feeling or thinking, but Minnie seems to me to be ready to get on with life. Different as that may be for her, she’s still Minnie.