Minnie looked more like a tiger than a three-legged domestic cat when I saw her out my studio window this afternoon. It was good to see. Sometimes I wonder if we did the right thing when we had her leg amputated. Sometimes I think it may have been kinder to have put her down. She has a hard time getting around and I know she couldn’t protect herself if she lived outside the way she did up until a few months ago. She was always sitting on fence posts looking down on the pastures, for mice and voles. Now she can’t even jump up onto the rocking chair on the porch, one of her and Flo’s favorite places to sun themselves.
But she does seem to have found her new favorite spots in the house. Frieda’s bed by the wood stove, the couch in the evenings and she loves to go in the basement during the day. I like to imagine she’s hunting mice down there, that her life hasn’t been reduced to just sleeping and eating. Although I’ve known a lot of cats that are very happy doing just that.
Today seems like the real first day of spring. All the animals are out sunning themselves and the sheep and donkeys are even grazing on the winter grass. The hens are pecking around and earlier we saw Minnie by the stone wall where she used to hunt.
Around 1:00, as Flo sat on the back porch rocker, Minnie made a mad dash through the door and into the house. The last I saw, she was laying in a patch of sun on the living room floor, looking dreamy and content.
But, it’s hard not to feel sad for her sometimes as she struggles to get up the basement stairs or watching her strange, humped-back walk as she makes her way from the barn to the house. Mostly because I know how quickly she used to be able to run and how she could gracefully jump straight up from the ground onto the work bench we used to feed her on in the barn, or how she would silently appear on the arm of the Adirondack chair when we would meditate outside.
But she does have a new life now of snuggling with me on the couch at night and gets along with Frieda well enough to rub her ears on Frieda’s nose. (Something I never believed was possible without Frieda taking Minnie’s head off). And although it’s Flo who walks around the house like the Queen she is, Minnie knows how to let you know what she wants, and usually gets it.
Maybe my ambiguity about our decision to keep Minnie alive with three legs depends more on my mood or how I see Minnie at different times than what’s actually best for Minnie. But I’m don’t know how to take myself out of the equation, how to see Minnie objectively. Or if that’s even the best way to judge the situation. Guess it comes back to that I just don’t know.