Thursday, April 17, 2008

Animals Don't Carry the Baggage Humans Do

When we asked our vet what he would do if it were his cat who had lost a foot, he didn’t have to think long before replying.

“I would take the leg off,” he said. “Animals adjust instantly to things like this. They don’t have the emotional baggage we humans carry.” Between that and the fact that CJ had hung so tough with his vital signs and all, we made the decision.

“We take the whole leg off at the hip,” the vet explained, “so that they don’t have a stump left to try and walk on it.” Oh. It made sense, but it didn’t prepare us for the sight of his ballooned, furless and rose-colored hip full of black stitches when we next came to see him. I overheard a nurse tell someone else that she got the feeling we were pretty shook up. She was right.

They kept him several days after the surgery, making sure he figured out how to eat and use the litter box in his new condition. When we got him home, Pixie instinctively knew something was wrong and kept her distance, but in only five weeks the two of them would be tussling together again.

How did he lose the foot (and also two inches of his tail)? We’ll never know. The neighborhood theory is that he tangled with a coyote (some had been seen at night) but had managed to escape, maybe down his favorite storm drain where the neighbors found him that morning. The doctor doubted that and said he though it must have been a car. But we never found any traces of blood and the like on the street.

Today Captain Jack lives a happy and pampered life. He has zilch memory of ever having another leg. He can’t jump quite as high as he used to, but I have a picture of him on the high kitchen counters just below the ceiling. He can run like the wind and dance across the yard when he’s really happy. He loves us to death and still purrs his heart out the way he did at the beginning when he saved his own life by being so loving for the vet staff. He’s a real character, with personality, devotion, and smarts to spare.

We’ve proved that afresh in the last three months when we successfully trained him on Pixie’s electric fence.

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