Not Disabled

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!!

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Steve and Saxon wrestling (Saxon in the box)

Author: stevethetripawdlady

Born and raised in Upstate NY and a volunteer at Mohawk Hudson Humane Society in Menands, NY. That's where Steve came from. Remember, Steve is a girl!

4 thoughts on “Not Disabled”

  1. Awww…nice post. Very uplifting and talk about “out of the mouth of babes”!

    Steve has every intenton of living life to the fullest AND for a very’ very long time too!

    Gkve her little extra treat for us tonight, okay? She’s touching a lot of lives.

    Keep on rocking Sweet Steve!

    Sally anc Happy Hannah

  2. Sounds like you, and Steve, and the kids, have it all figured out. My avatar is a picture of Angel Roxie, the dog who’s cancer diagnosis brought me to this site, and Spirit Trevor Wingnut, the tripawd kitty who reached out to me from Petfinder. He was about 1 1/2 years old when he was found with his back leg mangled under someone’s deck. A compassionate vet covered his amp surgery for the promise of the rescue shelter finding him a home. He filled our lives for 10+ years; jumping, tearing under the dogs’ legs to have a chance to run with them outside (he was a German Shepherd Cat), happily walking on harness for the “approved” outings, being the WalMart greeter for every visitor/cable guy/kid selling cookies, and he had fan clubs at our vet, the emergency vet, and, finally, the cancer vet. He’d tested positive for FIV but was very healthy for most of his life. He suddenly got ill just before Roxie’s leg amp, and, a week after, he went over The Bridge for a reunion with his best GSD siblings. It was a mass in his spleen that took him, but not until he’d spent that week at Roxie’s side, teaching her everything she needed to know about life as a tripawd.

    Most people didn’t notice the ghost leg. He sure didn’t. These guys teach great lessons to NOT put pity and limitations in the way of them living their lives. These wonderful, resilient animals simply deal with each new day as it comes, and have much to teach us about that!! Some just need a little more learning than others.

    Steve and Saxon are just gorgeous. Have always loved orange kitties. Pawty on, Steve – you rock!!!

    -Liz and Angel Roxie

  3. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Tripawds know how to live life to the fullest and not let anything stop them. You’ve learned this lesson so well.

    My favorite line to say to people when we get the “awww poor dog” is “what? he’s gone one more leg than you!”

  4. I treat Misty like normal too… except for not letting her outside alone, I’ve made no changes to the way I treat her. And I was not sure I was going to let her outside alone once we moved to FL even when I didn’t know she was going to end up missing a leg. She doesn’t see very well, and she is used to upstate NY. She knows nothing about fire ants or poisonous snakes or even the crazy afternoon thunderstorms that can descend and flood an area with barely a couple minutes’ notice.

    She doesn’t seem to mind me following her around. I bring my iPad or a book and if she decides to just sit and watch the world go by I do too, or I entertain myself on my device or book. Sometimes I think she forgets I am there, because if I make a noise she will occasionally “rrrt?” and come over to headbutt my leg before going back to her contemplation of the world.

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