Minnie Out My Window

Minnie out my studio window
Minnie out my studio window

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.

11 thoughts on “Minnie Out My Window

  1. Maria, I don’t think you can see Minnie objectively. She’s your pet and you have an array of feelings for her which is natural and ok. Maybe you won’t ever reconcile this decision with yourself. But you must know you gave her life and your gut that told you it wasn’t time to put her down was right. She has a good life with her pack and although physically disabled she’s living her life as fully as she can. She gives you gifts along the way. You get a sweet kitty to snuzzle with and the wonder of watching Frieda share her bed and let a cat actually scratch her ears on her royal nose! Oh, the things she’s teaching you all! No regrets Maria. Just love.

  2. You did what you thought was right at the time and I commend you for going that extra mile for Minnie…I love reading about her…I think animals adapt to the situation….she has a life, it might be different but it’s life…

  3. I’ve been a big Minnie fan since the original Bedlam Farm and though Mother was supreme, I always loved Minnie. I don’t know if this will help you think differently about Minnie’s new style of mobility but here is my story. I was an native american activist/ally while using my skills at video production to present Native issues on TV in Philly. The best blending of activism and video production was Walk Across America for Mother Earth in which I was a liason for native people with 100 Belgian people who walked from NYC to Nevada for 9 months promoting Native issues – and yes there were days that I joined them walking up to 20 miles a day. In 1999 I started having mobility issues, eventually using a cane reluctantly but then needing to use a walker by 2003. It drastically changed the way I did everything and of course left video/film work behind. I had switched from all aspects of production to producing/directing but soon that no longer worked. I went through much sadness leaving that part of my life behind but eventually found new paths to follow…….animal rescue working on matching people with cats and was a positive experience for awhile…so again I needed to adapt and change.

    To get back to Minnie – don’t be sad for her change in lifestyle. She is adapting to her new limitations and will feel her way around each day as I do. Just to keep things easy I sometimes use a wheelchair with friends when we go to museums or places where there is a great deal of walking. While I would love to go back to easy mobility, life has changed so I must change my style as well. Minnie is just as she should be now with her new lifestyle. Just my thoughts on it.

    Janet [aka Anna Mae]

    1. Thanks for that Janet. A part of me knows this is probably true for Minnie, and I hope it would be true for me too. sometimes it’s just a matter of remembering that part when I’m not feeling so good about it.

  4. Maria. I have to think long and hard about your feeling that maybe you might have made the wrong decision about amputating Minnie’s leg. I have often made decisions for my dogs that I thought long and hard about before doing it, and then second guessing myself afterwards. When my Sheltie, Stevie, was diagnosed with lymphoma, the vet asked my husband and me if we would like to talk to a doggie oncologist. I talked to my husband about it and we decided that we would talk to her and then make the decision. We did and decided that if we could do something for him that might extend his life with quality, we would do it. As a result, Stevie and I went every Friday for six months to see a wonderful doctor. I loved that dog more than you could imagine and would have done anything to give him time and quality. Every Friday, when we got in the car, it seemed as if he thought he was going on an adventure. Never a whimper, a grimace, nothing. That shouldn’t have surprised me because from the day we first brought him home he was the most mellow fellow you could have imagined. He was Mr. Sunshine; smart, sweet, gentle. Nothing phased him. That boy never growled in his whole life, never showed his teeth, he didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He graduated from obedience class not as a beginner but as a dog that was considered for commercials–a choice we didn’t make. I should have used him as a therapy dog because he would have brought joy to so many people. Unfortunately, we got six months and then we had to put him down. He was having difficulty breathing and he was rapidly filling with fluid throughout his body. I had to let him go and of all of my dogs, he was perhaps the hardest to let go. Would I do it again? I’m not sure. It depends on the dog; how they could go through it.
    I would go to that hospital every week and see all the other animals who were sick; many of them having had a limb amputated. Their owners all said they were doing fine and by all appearances, they were.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think we tend to second guess our choices for our animals. I think we do it because obviously they can’t tell us what they want and we must speak for them. We do what we think is best.
    You and Jon did that for Minnie. True, she can’t do the same things anymore, but she has a new kind of life and when I see the pictures and hear what you say about her new life, I can’t help but think she is adjusting and might even be grateful for this second chance. She sits in the sun in both old and new places, but she is in the sun.
    She has a new relationship with Frieda and gets a new kind of love from you and Jon. She must love that cuddle time with you and she must feel comfortable lying on a warm pillow by the wood stove. So, maybe she can’t do the same things any more, but there are new things and new ways to explore.
    I guess what I am saying is that it is difficult not to second guess our choices for our animals, but I’m not sure it is good to keep looking back. Think forward and see how Minnie enjoys the warmth of a new life. Spring is coming and with it comes a new beginning, a new way of living–even for Minnie.

  5. And if all she does is sleep and eat — that is what cats do. I read that cats generally sleep 16 hours a day, so if she is sleeping less than that, she is a pretty active cat.

  6. Janet said it well. One has to adjust to life or so I tell myself, getting older has it’s challenges. Think of all the young men and women coming back from the middle east without limbs and worst, blind. One makes the best dicisions at the time. We constantly learn and grow. I bet Minnie is enjoying her new life.

    1. You might be right Cherie. The difference with people is they can make their own decisions and for animals we make the decisions for them. But it also seems that animals adjust even better to new circumstances that people do, because they don’t compare their lives to what they used to be.

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