My black cat, Triplet, just had a very bad day. Her arch nemesis, Puck, came back into her life yesterday. Now Puck is not a bad cat, but Triplet does NOT enjoy his company, to say the least. I’m pretty sure she hates his guts. Despite this, and many other hurdles she’s faced over the years, this little kitty has taught me a lot about life and how to handle tough situations with grace.
I don’t know much about Triplet’s past, except that it was pretty rough. She showed up under our back deck five years ago so scrawny and pitiful we almost didn’t notice at first that one of her back legs was missing. She appeared in a yard that already had a Golden Retriever and two other cats in it, so my husband and I knew that this poor black kitty must have been desperate. She could barely stand and her skin drooped on her little skeleton like a man’s coat does on a five-year-old. She ate so fast when we fed her she immediately threw up. She was a sad little kitty.
We thought she was a kitten at first because she was so tiny, but the vet said she was probably around four years old. Her leg had been surgically removed and she had been spayed, so we knew at one time someone had cared for her. We contacted all the local vets and hung up signs hoping we would be able to find her owner, but no luck. No one was missing a starving, three-legged black cat. So after having a family pow-wow with the other animals, we decided to keep this feline vagabond. We don’t know what her name had been, but we called her Triplet.
From the beginning, it was pretty obvious that Triplet had not been brought up around dogs. Our Golden, Bido, was respectful of her, but he basically ignored her (apart from the occasional sniff just to make sure she hadn’t changed her perfume lately). She never once tried to engage him or get his attention in any way. She was fine going through life knowing that the canine of the family didn’t care to play with her. This taught me that not everyone is always going to be “into” me, and that’s OK.
Triplet has a strange habit of eating plastic bags. We guess it’s because she had to eat lots of garbage when she was surviving out on her own, and probably equates plastic with food scraps. From observing this strange behavior I have learned that 1) I have to make sure all plastic bags are picked up off the floor, and 2) just because you CAN eat something doesn’t mean you SHOULD eat it.
This little kitty of ours is handicapped, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t contribute her available talents to the family. There are things she can’t do (like jump on the kitchen counters), but plenty she can do. She catches flies (if they fly low enough) and promptly disposes of them (by eating them). Same with other bugs and spiders. You see, just like any other cat, she likes to earn her keep. This has taught me that we all have different capacities and ALL contributions are worthwhile.
Like I said earlier, Puck is not a bad cat. But he is a young cat, full of kitty vim and vigor. And he LOVES Triplet. He just wants to play with her. Touch her. Chase her. Normal cat things. But, unfortunately, he doesn’t realize that she is not a “normal” cat (which is a lesson in itself). Triplet has taught me that sometimes it is better to remove yourself from a bad situation than to engage a stronger foe. Sometimes surviving the day is more important than winning the battle.
We are a society of excuse makers. And we are sorry for everything. But not Triplet. She makes no excuse for her handicap, and she never complains about not being able to jump on the counters. If she can pull herself up onto something, fine. If not, fine. I have learned that I do not need to feel sorry for her because her handicap is something that happened to her. She is much more than the sum of her impediments. This has taught me to really try to look past people’s limitations and focus instead on the things they do bring to the table. This lesson has had a huge impact on my life.
So yesterday my husband and Puck (after a grueling 15 hour trip from Ecuador) joined me and Triplet at our new home in South Carolina. I didn’t tell Triplet ahead of time because she has really enjoyed this past month without her nemesis and I didn’t want to upset her with news of his return. But when we took Puck out of his carrier Triplet walked right up to him and went nose to nose. She accepted him back right away. I had worried for nothing. You see, just as we accept her and all of her limitations, she accepts him and all of his annoyances. After all, they are family. And that lesson is worth its weight in catnip.
K. Kris Loomis is the author of the humorous travel memoir, Thirty Days In Quito: Two Gringos and a Three-Legged Cat Move to Ecuador. She also writes adult parables and short stories as well as books about yoga and meditation. Kris is a determined chess player, an origami enthusiast, a classically trained pianist, and a playwright. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and two cats.
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