“Way down deep, we’re all motivated by the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them.” — Jim Davis
Eddie’s name should have been Tripod. Hit by a car before we adopted him, Eddie was left on the side of the road where someone found him and took him to the veterinary hospital. There, his left back leg was amputated and that’s where Sharon and Rachel, the Mother Theresas of Cats, found him.
When Sharon’s cancer showed no signs of going into remission, she asked me to adopt Eddie. I had my doubts. With a full-time business, a crazy-busy family, a dog with cancer and a talking parrot with neuroses, how would I care for a cat with three legs?
“Oh, he’s just like a normal cat,” Sharon said. Hard to believe. But Eddie is a normal cat, if such a thing exists.
Yes, he lopes like a raccoon and he gets quite irritated that he can’t scratch his neck on the left side (even though the little stump of his missing leg twitches as he tries) but nothing…and I mean nothing…stops Edward. He has never allowed a missing leg to hold him back or keep him down.
That’s because Eddie LOVES life. He RELISHES life. And he loves, as they say, like he’s never been hurt.
Eddie spent the first week at our house in the closet, by choice, but he eventually ventured out and within another week he OWNED our home including a full-one third of our queen-sized bed. He pushed my husband to one side and staked his spot between us, laying his head on my shoulder and purring like a Mac truck. I should mention that’s he’s not a small cat. The amputation of his back leg forces him to use his fronts legs all the more. He has shoulders like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Once Ed began to venture outside into our yard (far from the road!) his raccoon rhythm could be heard coming and going on the deck — ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump. Before long he had expanded his benevolent kingdom to include the entire neighbourhood. Our yard became the go-to place for cats as Eddie’s popularity spread.
Cats of all sizes and shapes arrived including slinky females, feisty Toms who hated every other cat except Ed — and an overweight cat we called Fat Fiona who became Ed’s special friend. We were thrilled Eddie had a girlfriend (despite his neutered status) but later found out Fat Fiona was actually Pooky, another male. No matter, Eddie loves everyone.
None of the other cats cared that Ed has three legs. In fact, I’d say it gave him a special “tough guy” status. In fights, he uses his remaining back leg strategically, planting ju-jitsu-like kicks on his opponent. Whump, whump, whump, yeow.
Before I met Ed, I thought charisma must be a uniquely human trait — but I’d have to say Eddie most definitely has that magic star quality. This cat can light up a room. Cats love him and so do dogs and people, even self-declared cat haters (the Irish proverb says beware of anyone who hates a cat.)
Women especially love Eddie. That’s because Ed is an expert in inter-species flirting. He is a feline Tom Jones, sidling up to women and girls alike, wrapping his paw through the crook of their elbows and nuzzling his head into their breasts. Nice for him, painful for the objects of his affection.
Did Eddie always have such charisma or did his traumatic accident make him reach out all the more to the people and animals around him? Does he show so much love because he was given so much love? It’s hard to know.
All I know is that he came into our lives and he’s here to stay. He’s taught me so much but the three big lessons he taught me (one for each of his legs!) are:
#1 Don’t focus on what’s missing; work with what’s there.
#2 Just assume you are lovable and to heck with the rest.
#3 When you find a slice of sunlight, lie in it and just bask. It may not be there for long.
There are plenty of cats with missing limbs. Most do just fine, adjusting to their circumstances far faster than humans do. Some of these three-legged felines have become quite famous, especially Henry the Cat, a three-legged “Therapet” who does healing work with disabled children, wounded veterans, Hurricane Katrina survivors and Haitian earthquake amputees.
People often ask me if Eddie requires any special care. So far, it doesn’t seem like it. He’s as agile as a cat with four legs. I do give him back massages because I think his back must get sore from the twisted way he has to walk. And I often wonder if he suffers from phantom limb syndrome but he doesn’t seem to be in pain. I could try to ask him but as Mary Bly says, “Dogs come when they’re called. Cats take a message and get back to you.”
Photos of Eddie the Cat © Chris Holt. All Rights Reserved.