15777060317_f69e3960e2_zIn Greek, the word zoe (Ζωή for you purists) means life.

Therefore, the word Zoey must translate to the underappreciated adjective lifey.

lifey, [lahyf-ee], adjective

1. Abounding in the qualities of zesty zippy lively life:
“Give me another espresso, and I’ll be as lifey as a ball pit of toddlers.”

Eyeballs may droop. But the light of life, never.
Eyeballs may droop. But the light of life, never.

Wherefore, it’s more than appropriate that this particular kitten has this particular name.

Casually peep in Zoey‘s recovery crate, and “lifey” may not be the first adjective that springs to mind.

“Shy,” perhaps. “Nervous.” Or maybe “Picasso-ey.”

To the surface glance, Zoey looks like a plush grey pelt with a half-out-of-place face. Her left eye droops down, her ear zone is shaved, and her whole self is a little askew. She’s several hokey pokeys away from knowing what it’s all about.

But the surface glance never sees life.

Get down on life’s level and look. Really look. That little grey pelt is unlike any you’ve ever seen before — or rather, it’s very much like one you saw long ago and far away. If Zoey’s coat looks like anything on earth, it’s the short, thick, perfect “fur” of a stuffed animal. She’s soft at a level we didn’t realize nature could muster. If someone spilled Capri-Sun on her, her washing instructions would be “wrap in pillowcase, wash on gentle cycle, fluff with soft brush, do not dry clean.”

But the fur is just the wrapping, and this far after Christmas, we know that’s not the thing. The thing is the gift, and the gift is life.

Look again at that modern art face. Look further up and deeper down. Look at Zoey long enough, gentle and blinking and patient, and she’ll find the courage to look back at you with something budding like trust.

And a brave trust it is. Zoey comes by her cockeyed features honestly. Sometime between being born to a feral mom and being spirited to Tabby’s Place, Zoey — or more precisely, Zoey’s left ear — grew a polyp bigger than a prize watermelon.

Zoey reaches out to taste life with a tiny tongue and a tremendous heart.
Zoey reaches out to taste life with a tiny tongue and a tremendous heart.

No, let’s be real here. Zoey’s polyp was bigger than Bruno Mars.*

This obtrusive orb caused Zoey to develop a head tilt of the highest order. It’s as though she’s originally from Chile and still trying to see the world from the other side of the equator. Everything’s upside-down…

Cats can live fine, happy, tilty lives with crooked heads (exhibit a: Valencia), but Zoey’s polyp was big enough to poop her party. In addition to seeing the world at a 45′ angle, Zoey was wracked with sneezes and snorkles and symptoms that meant only one thing.

The tilty, pelty kitten would need surgery.

So it was off to Dr. Fantastic, who pruned out the Subaru-sized polyp and set Zoey back on the road to life, full-stop.

Now it’s all about walking that road together, arm in wobbly arm.

As a harmless side effect of her surgery, Zoey developed Horner’s syndrome. With all apologies to Mr. (Mrs.? Dr.? Reverend? Commodore?) Horner, this condition would be much better named for Picasso or Dali, as it causes the afflicted face to droop and drop in asymmetrical ways. It’s usually temporary, painless, and frankly just a little weird.

But it’s the weird and wonderful stuff of life.

Zoey’s shaved spot will grow back. Her big round eye will (likely) undroop.

And already, her life is rushing back to the top, one trusting blink at a time.

It’s time to party, Zoey. It’s time to love. L’chaim, child. You were born to be very, very much alive.

*Actually, so are most prize watermelons. Never mind.

Photo credits from de top: Mark, Jess B, Mark.


2 thoughts on “Lifey

  1. Little Zoey started off with some challenges – but luckily landed in the best possible (Tabby’s) place for healing and encouragement. In loving memory of two dear grey ladies recently deceased, welcome Zoey!

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