My sister is in town for a long weekend with her kids. My 2 1/2 year old niece, Josie, loves to watch the videos on my smartphone. Her favorite one is a 10 second video of Steve hopping across my bathroom floor towards me. At the very end, Steve looks at the camera and meows. Josie could watch this video 1,000 times and never get bored!
Josie has met Steve a few times, both before and after amputation. Steve was never a cat with a disability. Steve isn’t a cat with three legs, different from her four legged brothers – even when I point it out. Steve is Steve, the kitty with the cute meow. Steve is the soft orange kitty. Steve is “the other nice kitty.” (Saxon was the first nice kitty before Steve came to live with us.) Even my 5 year old nephew doesn’t notice Steve’s missing leg. She’s just the orange cat that he gets to pet when he comes to Aunt Bue’s house.
Usually when I tell people that one of my cats is a Tripawd, I get the “Oh I’m so sorry” reaction. Sorry for what? I’m not sorry, Steve isn’t sorry, the surgeon who removed her leg isn’t sorry. “Poor kitty.” Poor?! Do you know how many toys she has? I’m the poor one! Do you know how much her food costs?! I wish people could be more like my niece and nephew. I don’t know if it’s that the kids don’t notice or that they don’t care. Or is it that they see Steve getting around the house just as fine as her brothers and know that’s just how it is? Saxon jumps, Steve jumps. Yorrick runs, Steve runs. Spyder climbs, Steve climbs.
When I take Steve to the vet, her doctor already knows that she’s a Tripawd because she assisted on the surgery. The techs don’t notice, even when they pick her up to put her on the scale or place the stethoscope on her chest. I assume she’s fluffy enough to hide it. Then something comes up in conversation and I say that she’s missing a leg, Steve jumps from the table, and a tech makes a comment about how agile Steve is for only having three legs. She’s essentially been on three legs all of her life, of course she’s agile! Plus, she’s a cat!!
I know that a day will come when Steve’s lone back leg will wear out sooner than normal from carrying the full load. I don’t trim her nails so that she has a better grip to pull herself up when climbing. I try to give her lower options for jumping when she wants to get somewhere high, but there’s really no stopping her on the way down. She’s a highly active cat, and if her days are numbered on the low end because she enjoyed them to the fullest in the beginning, so be it. I will not baby her or treat her like she is disabled, and I will not let others do it. I will encourage everyone to treat her as my niece and nephew do – like she is just another cat!!