I told a friend this week to cut off her cat’s leg.
Hold on, before you get PETA or mental health officials on your speed dial, let me explain.
My friend’s kitty, Eloise, was injured by a dog or some critter who had chomped down on the sweet girl’s back right leg. I certainly wasn’t suggesting my friend handle this medical crisis on her own. No, I was holding her hand when Eloise’s leg wasn’t healing properly and her veterinarian gave her what seemed like shocking advice.
“He says he needs to amputate Eloise’s back right leg!” she said, horrified.
“Go for it,” I instantly assured her.
Perhaps, I should share why I’m in a unique position to offer counsel on this matter.
I have a three-legged cat named Pisa. (Yes, as in Leaning Tower of.)
And get this — Pisa, is my third three-legged cat.
What can I say? Some people collect stamps, coins or baseball cards.
For me, it’s been three-legged cats.
In the interest of complete accuracy, it’s more like they collect me. The first found me back in 1992 when I was a local news reporter in Phoenix doing a story at the Humane Society.
“Let me show you this special cat that just came in,” the shelter’s PR director said.
From the moment that three-legged ball of gray fur landed in my arms and hugged me with his one right leg I was a goner. I named him “Tripod.”
“You’re not going to believe this,” the same shelter director emailed me a couple years later. “We have another gray three-legged cat, just missing a different leg.”
Three-legged love, Chapter 2.
The kitty I named “I-lean” was older and was with me only a few years before he passed.
Tripod, on the other hand, er, paw, had an incredibly long life. He lived until he was 20 years old. Not too long after he passed, when I was so sure I wasn’t ready for another pet, a local shelter emailed wondering if I would be willing to take in a three-legger they were having trouble finding a home for.
“You can just foster her,” they said.
I can hear you fellow animal lovers howling right now. You know how these stories go. Foster-schmoster. I officially adopted Pisa three years ago.
To live with a three-legged cat is to get a daily reminder that what I have is enough.
Three legs are enough to run, jump and be happy.
Pisa even caught a mouse for me the other day. There they both were lying at the base of the stairs when I came downstairs early one morning. She was so proud, as if to say, “Look what I got for you!” That’s a normal cat behavior I could do without, thank you very much.
Of course, three legs aren’t the package of cat most of us ever counted on, but isn’t that true with life as well?
When I let go my pre-conceived notions of how something in my life is supposed to look, some wonderful treasures tend to show up. It’s true with cats, love, jobs and more. To learn that is life-changing. To share that is a gift.
So, it was with great confidence, I told my friend Claire, “Cut it off.” Rather go through with the amputation. Eloise is young, smart. She will be fine. She will figure it out. And watch out for dead mouse presents.”
There was one final tip I couldn’t resist.
“Might I suggest a name tweak?” I offered. “Elo-threese” has a nice ring to it.”