Baby, our 3-footed cat, comes into the house with our permission. She heads for the basement since she knows her dish is there. She rarely eats her portion of food, so leftovers from her last visit await her. Generally, I am the one who follows her down the stairs to load up her dish with fresh cat yummies.
Our decision to feed her is based on her history. One of my daughters rescued her when she was a kitten. She fed her and brought her up in the house. Her handicap of having only 3 feet with which to hunt and catch her own dinner came about three years ago. She is the only cat who gets the house privilege here on the farm.
We did not have confidence in her ability to feed herself. Yet, in effect, Baby has trained us to give her a hand-out. Occasionally, we catch a mouse in a trap and offer it to her. Being house-fed, Baby has shown little, if any, interest in them. We thought she did not know what to do with a mouse.
Just the other day, we learned a lesson about this empathy we have had for her situation. Our empathy lowered our expectations for her strength and resolve. Let me tell you what my husband and daughter witnessed.
I call it:
“The Boot Story”
My husband uses 8-inch leather boots for doing his farm chores. Some are lined for winter use which he stores beneath a table in the basement. He can use them at a moments notice without the use of work sock. That is just what happened. In a hurry to do a quick job, he jumped into his boots. Leaving his bedroom slippers on the basement floor, he planned to venture outdoor for his errand.
Let me remind you that Baby was in for her feeding and watched the goings-on.
One boot felt funny to my husband. It felt like there was something stuck in the toe of his boot. So he dumped out the contents. Out dropped a fat mouse. She landed in my husband’s bedroom slipper!
The mouse wriggled out and scrambled. Baby was right there on-the-job. She leaped and tore off after the mouse and had it for dessert! It was unbelievable. We would never have thought it possible for her to want to catch a mouse much less eat it.
Here we had such low expectations for her. We had no idea that our fussy-eating cat wanted a live-catch. Nor did we think she had the wherewithal to make a catch on her own. In this case, I think our empathy may have done her a disservice.
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