Wednesday, 16 December 2020

From pity to inspiration: How my cat overcame her disabilities

Guest blog: Living with my one-eyed, three-legged cat

Guest blog: Living with My One-Eyed, Three-Legged Cat

Guest blog by Kathy M. Finley.
So excited to welcome her to the Paws For Reaction extended family!

While in the midst of a bitter divorce and a stressful job, I received an unusual birthday gift- a gray and white kitten. That gift, whom I named Clio, was a blessing, and besides having a slight heart murmur, she was a healthy cat. I had no idea that seven years later, I would be caring for a disabled pet. 

When Clio was two years old, I noticed a dark spot on her left eye. My regular veterinarian noted it was a discoloration of the eye or melatonin. Nonetheless, these spots can turn to cancer, and in five years, that's exactly what happened. The spot had turned cancerous, and Clio’s beautiful green eye had to be removed. I was devastated, but Clio recovered rapidly. I was worried that she would hurt herself jumping on counters and furniture because she would lack depth perception. However, I learned that cats don’t have depth perception, and aside from being slightly disfigured, Clio went about her cat life as usual.  

Three years later, Clio developed proliferate fibrosarcoma (injection site sarcoma) in her back leg. Although this diagnosis for a cat is usually fatal, Clio was fortunate that we found the cancer early and the tumor’s location in her leg indicated that after a complete amputation she would be cancer-free. A few friends and relatives suggested I euthanize her, but I felt since her chances of survival were so high I couldn’t just 'throw her away.' I did not want her to suffer but in this case, there was an excellent chance she would recover and have a full, happy life. 

Guest blog: Living with My One-Eyed, Three-Legged Cat

As usual, my spunky bundle of fur made it through surgery and was up to her usual tricks. On the afternoon of the surgery, she removed her bandages and some of the stitches and was able to stand on three legs.  When we brought her home watching her walk was difficult. I questioned whether I made the right decision. I feared she wouldn't be able to walk. Getting into and out of her litter box was difficult. However, after a few weeks, Clio had mastered walking on three legs. She used her tail for balance, and was eventually able to outrun me! Although she was not able to jump onto counters and dressers, she still was able to jump on chairs and even on the bed. 

I learned a lot from Clio about disabilities. Cats, unlike humans, are not obsessed with their looks. Not having an eye didn’t affect the spunky, 'queen of the universe' attitude she had. Losing a leg was a temporary setback, but after she mastered walking on three legs, she continued to lead her normal cat life. In short, she was able to overcome her disabilities and live her life to the fullest. 


Even though Clio was able to overcome her disabilities, she's still disabled. Caring for a disabled pet has some challenges. Cats (and dogs, too) don’t often do what's in their best interest. Therefore, if you have a pet that has to have a limb amputated or has some type of disability, you need to keep them separate from your other pets until they can heal and master their new situation. If you have another pet, feed the disabled one separately so they are able to eat without interference. You also should be careful that the disabled pet does not gain weight. I know how easy it is to spoil a disabled pet given what they've been through, but the extra weight makes it harder for them to get around. Since cats like to jump on furniture, you may need to get some pet stairs or a pet ramp so they don’t injure themselves when trying to jump. The litter box should have lower sides so your cat can easily get into it. If you feel overwhelmed by your disabled pet, don’t give up on them. If you need help or support, there are plenty of groups on the internet that can help.

Guest blog: Living with My One-Eyed, Three-Legged Cat

Anyone who owns a disabled cat or dog knows that for the pet, nothing changes. They manage to overcome their disabilities and live their lives. Clio became disabled because of her two bouts with cancer. I did not adopt a disabled pet, but if ever offered the opportunity, I would adopt a disabled pet in heartbeat. Despite the challenges, the courage pets display when faced with disabilities is truly inspirational.

From pity to inspiration: How my cat overcame her disabilities
Meet the guest blogger: Kathy M. Finley has been a lifelong animal lover and feels a special bond to cats. She has worked in the nonprofit sector all of her professional life and ran several national nonprofit organizations, but has entered into a new phase of her life and hopes to combine her love for storytelling and writing to show how animals can provide unconditional love, acceptance, and insight into one’s self. She is currently working on a book about how her one-eyed, three-legged cat helped her face many of life’s challenges.

Guest blog: Living with My One-Eyed, Three-Legged Cat

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