This photo was taken two years after Abishag came back from being lost four weeks and four days during a terrible snowstorm with inches of snow, continuous wind, ice and sleet for several days’ duration. She had a bloody stub instead of her tail, and weighed only four pounds (half her normal weight). Obviously, from the picture, she learned to compensate for the lack of a tail. She climbed other, taller trees, raced her brother up quite a steep flight of stairs daily, gained back the pounds she’d lost (and then some).
Differently-abled cats are like differently-abled humans, in some ways. I believe the major attribute that sets both groups apart is attitude.
Abishag didn’t consider herself lacking a means of balance, and she very quickly adjusted to her tail-less but normal life.
One incident still stays in my ‘memory bank,’ however. Abishag had been home maybe half an hour, and I’d taken her upstairs to see her brother while my husband called the vet to find out how soon someone could check her over.
Ira was sitting in front of the bookcase, pleased at his sister being home again, with Abishag busy washing an ear. (Ira’s ears must’ve gotten very dirty while she’d been gone.) She looked down at his tail. Then, with a deep sigh, she lay down quietly beside her brother and put her head on his tail. Ira looked startled but then sat quite still. Abishag stayed there for a few minutes, got up and went to get a bite of food from her brother’s breakfast bowl.
Now, was she remembering her tail or not? The stub was still a raw wound, so it’s a guess as to when exactly she’d lost it, just as it was a guess as to how. The senior veterinarian, with many years of experience, saw her and felt sure a coyote had tried to grab her but got only her tail instead. Other people guessed an extremely sharp farm implement of some sort (we live in a very rural area) had struck her and severed it. No one knows for sure.
And was she also saying goodbye to a part of herself? She never did that again, to my knowledge. She and Ira hunted moles together once again (and very successfully), wrestled, teased and chased each other.
How deeply does a cat think?