Despite her obvious paralysis, Zoey’s life is pretty great I think. She has everything she needs or wants and then some. It’s funny because just about every vet I’ve taken her to has, after they’ve watched her scoot around on the floor for a minute, dropped his/her voice and looked me straight in the eyes to ask about her “quality of life.” I just about fall over in a fit of laughter because, really, her life is pretty fantastic. But, instead, I smile and politely describe all of the testing we’ve done, the x-rays, the specialists she’s seen, the acupuncture and chiropractic treatments, and then about what I do to ensure that she maintains a quality life. Then his/her look turns from concern to fascination. Meanwhile, Zoey is usually flying around the exam room at this point, curious about everything and everyone, and she might even be rubbing her neck and head on the doctors leg. The facial expressions from this point forward are priceless because, suddenly, the possibilities and realities of a paraplegic pet melt into each other and I realize that, together, Zoey and I (mostly Zoey) have made a difference. We’ve made an interesting impact to say the least.
I say all of this because just a few minutes ago, I went upstairs to check on Little Miss. She heard me coming and sat up in her bed and, as I entered the room, stretched and yawned confirming that she’d had a restful afternoon. As I went about taking dozens of photos of her cuteness, I thought about those words: quality and life. While we can amaze others with her sheer presence, she amazes me in how easy she makes it all look. You’d never know that she’d suffered a trauma as a kitten; that she couldn’t do what other cats can do. Just as cats climb and jump and scratch and play, Zoey keeps up and even sets the pace in this household. She enjoys playing with toys far more than Lucy and Lily. Barely nine pounds, she is best friends with two big dogs. She chows her food down with zeal then runs around the house – stairs and all – like a mad woman. And she finds pleasure in an open heat vent like none other.
So, when I see her in moments like this – waking up from a peaceful slumber – and living her normal, fun-filled cat life, I never question her quality of life. She doesn’t know (care?) that she is paraplegic. Cats and dogs just don’t seem to judge or ‘label’ things like we humans do. She just knows her bowl is full when she’s hungry, there are toys to play with when she’s bored, and that there are always two laps she can curl up on when she’s cold. A quality life indeed.