We call Stella our "old girl". She is 17 years old, missing all but three teeth, is completely declawed (which we hate), and a cranky old lady. She's got a little tumor / cyst on her leg, is very inquisitive,and is quite the talker. In fact, she has been known to say such words as "Mama" and "Elmo", and will actually answer us when we speak to her in conversation.
A couple of months ago, we thought Stella was dying. She showed all the signs: accidents around the house, not eating or drinking, lacking in energy, lethargy.... all the telltale signs we have seen before with our previous lovely feline, Dylan. We took Stella to the vet (who basically told us she was very old and arthritic, and to have a litter box on every floor), and brought her home. I commented to the family, "I think it might be time for kitty hospice."
Stella had been an outdoor cat in her toddler years, so she always had a longing to get back into her lifestyle of catting around (pun totally intended). However, for her safety we had kept her indoors, since we live in an area where there are coyotes, raccoons, fox, hawks, and other wildlife who would tear her apart in a heartbeat if given the chance. Since we felt she was nearing the end, we decided we would bring her outside with supervision....to enjoy whatever time she had left.
Stella loved basking in the sun, with her eyes half-closed and sniffing the breezes. She was totally in her feline geriatric element. We felt we could put Stella on a leash and keep an eye on her, allowing her to soak in the joy of being outside once again. It totally took us by surprise when our toothless, clawless girl caught a bird! (Gasp!) Luckily, the little swallow was only very stunned and shaken up. Scott took the little feathered friend away from the deck and placed him safely into an abandoned nest in a tree at the edge of the yard. He flew away later, thank god. But Stella? She was quite happy with herself and was now prancing around like a furry little queen.
And.....Stella has returned to her vocal, inquisitive, vital (albeit geriatric) feline self. Coincidental? I don't think so. I have seen again and again how folks are imbued by a new sense of purpose and vitality just by getting outdoors. Since my accident, I personally have felt depression lift and pain lessen when I'm doing my thing.....hiking, climbing, kayaking, or just being outdoors. As always, the greater the scenery, the better. But the sun, the breeze, the elements...they're healing. Our Stella has proven it.
We don't know how long our old girl will be with us...but we are glad she can enjoy the life-giving power of nature. Now it will just be our job to protect the birds.
(This post has been brought to you by the "Black Cats Aren't Scary" Society in preparation for the Halloween Holiday.)