Daily Photo Reprise: The Big Branch, 2010

tortoiseshell cat on branch
Fearless Cookie climbs the branch less trodden.

Most of the snow is melted out there, and new snow falling is pretty but not amounting to much. Browsing photos I often encounter Cookie, including these from March 2010, as the snow slowly melted after a series of heavy storms in February and on our first excursion outdoors in over a month she first discovered “the big branch” that fell from high up in one of the trees from the weight of the snow, its heavy end landing right next to the picnic table and the branches leaning on the fence. While I had every intention of cutting it to pieces and using them to trim my flower beds, Cookie immediately stepped up onto it and walked all over it; the branch would be her second favorite hangout for the next two years, and also became her step up onto her first favorite hangout, the picnic table.

Even though I shoveled paths into the snow it was weeks before it melted down to the soil, and at 17 Cookie finally found that walking on snow for any length of time was just too uncomfortable on her tiny tortie paws and she would wait on the deck or the steps for me.

tortoiseshell cat on path in snow
I guess it’s mud or snow, but I have to get to my back yard.

One day enough snow had melted that she decided to follow me around as I filled bird feeders and Cookie explored her strange new world.

tortoiseshell cat outdoors with snow
What happened to my garden?

One of the most endearing things I always enjoyed about Cookie was her fearless curiosity. If there was something new, she explored it—a box in the house, my art materials, a visitor, Cookie immediately and wholeheartedly acquainted herself with it.

tortoiseshell cat sniffing stick
Must be spring!

Curiosity is legendarily a cat’s province, but a reason to consider this a little extra special in Cookie was that she always had difficulty walking just from weakness in her hind legs, likely from her early deprivation. Even when younger she couldn’t run or jump very high and while still young quit jumping altogether to climb step by step onto things.

tortie cat on branch
Cookie balances on her maiden voyage on the branch.

This never stopped her, and it didn’t even slow her down because she got herself everywhere she needed to go, and her ingenuity at finding a stepping stone path of different levels anywhere in the house to get anywhere she wanted to go is something I’ll always remember. She never complained, just happily made her way around things; as she grew older I surreptitiously added things she could step on in every room.

tortoiseshell cat on branch
Will you quit reminding me I’m 17 years old?

So I look at her on this log at the age of 17 with fine balance but without a whole lot of strength in those legs. She walked down the muddy path in the snow, met the branch and happily stepped up on it and looked around, took a few more steps up and looked again, then walked out as far as she dared, then walked back. She was also wise in knowing exactly how far she could go, literally, and still be able to get herself safely back to where she needed to be.

tortoiseshell cat on branch
Wow, the view is really great from here!

The branch fell at just the right time because the previous year she had been able to pull herself up onto the picnic bench, but it was an increasing struggle. The first thing the next spring the branch had fallen and I guess she thought it had been provided for her. She used it from then until just a few days before she died to both sit on, scratch on and step up onto the bench.

“It’s just a tree branch, and I’m a cat. What’s the big deal? I’ll still be doing this years from now.”

tortoiseshell cat on branch
Hi, mom!

Browse some rescued cats and kittens!

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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