(As a side note to this blog, I suggest reading up on cat behavior if you’re into that sort of thing. I honestly believe there is a reason that some people are “cat-people” and some are “dog-people”. I would also like to note that being in a happy mood around your cat does matter during a healing process. Dogs and cats notice and to some point mimic your emotions – so if you’re scared when they come home, they will be more stressed)
Hey guys –
I just wanted to pop in to talk about something that I’ve been noticing over and over again in both myself and other soon-to-be tripod kitty parents I’ve spoken to. And, let me say that this is my opinion and it might not be everyone’s favorite, but this is what I’ve come to realize –
Cats and dogs are very different creatures – but we often forget it. Cats and humans are also very different creatures, and we forget that just as often. So, when people like “past-me” are eagerly scratching across the internet looking desperately for information on what it’s like to go through an amputation with our pets we (1) imagine what it would be like for us to go through an amputation and (2) soak up any information we can get about pet amputation, even if it’s a different species.
And let’s be honest, there is a whole lot of similarity between a dog and cat having a leg amputated. I made the decision about Fang’s amputation pretty much entirely based on dog information, as there just wasn’t a whole lot of cat-amputation information out there, and there definitely were no other communities as willing to reach out, support our decision making process, and help us understand and cope like the Tripawds Community (which at the time had predominately dog-amputation members, though they now have considerably more kitty information, stories, and members). That information got us through the entire process, much more happily and readily than we ever would have, and I am extremely grateful. But there are also some differences worth noting.
One good thing is that it seems (to me) that cats have a faster recuperation time than dogs. That, and cats seem to “figure it out” on their own more readily.
But the difference that I wanted to talk about was this: the idea that your cat needs you to be with them 100% and help them through coping with the loss of their limb. Now, I know, this is difficult to grasp – I, too, read that your pet after amputation will need you to be brave for them, be with them, help them through, and provide them with emotional support. And what’s more, it just FEELS like you need to be there for them – after all, if it were you, you would want someone to be there for and comfort you.
But I circle back – Cats and dogs are very different creatures, and cats and humans are very different creatures. I am an absolute cat person, and have had and met many cats – they range from affectionate to the sort of “aloof” that only a cat can achieve. But one thing is almost always true about cats: they are amazingly good at hiding illness (it’s instinctual to stop them from looking like like prey), and if they are unable to pretend that nothing is ailing them, they will hide away so that no one will notice their illness. Anyone who’s had a sick cat knows, you find them under the bed, in a dark corner in the closet, or somewhere out of the way.
So, when you get home from amputation and you take your kitty out of the pet carrier, you want them to hang out with you, lay with you, cuddle with you – you want to tell them everything is okay. But your cat likely just wants to hide somewhere to heal up in peace. For example, Fang immediately ran under the bed and I spent hours trying to coax him out.
It is in our nature to want so much to give our cats that social interaction and comfort we would want in times like these. And for dogs, I think that that might honestly be necessary. For humans, this is also true.
But cats are different. Remember, dogs and humans are pack animals -We are social creatures by nature. Cats are not pack animals, no matter how much we want to look at them that way. They do form partnerships, they do appreciate the safety of your home, and you and your cat likely have a very special relationship – but they are not pack animals.
So, with Fang, eventually I realized that it was natural for him to want to hide – and that that’s what made him feel better. So instead of trying to force him to act the way I wanted him to act, I made places for him to hide that I could still get to him if I needed to (see Fang’s old blogs for pictures of the blanket-over-coffee-table-castle). Yes, I slept in the room with him, but I left him be. I let him come to me for affection. And you know, sometimes he did come to me – and I was so happy to give it. Honestly, he was definitely happier, and that made me happier (though it was hard not to follow him around constantly).
I just needed to take a step back, and look at things from a different perspective.
So, If you get home and you feel the need to coddle, think about
- if you’re doing it because it makes yourself feel better ( after making that sort of decision you feel afraid that your cat is angry with you, and you want them to comfort you),
- or if you’re doing it because you only think they need your comfort (like a more social creature might),
- or if they legitimately need and want your comfort.
I’m not saying ignore them – I mean, that would be impossible, they’re your fur-babies – but I am saying to pay attention and be above the situation enough to realize when they want to be ignored. Because for a while, it’s incredibly possible that they really, genuinely want you to leave them be.