By Dana Lovell, Minnesota

To increase my ability for giving and receiving love, I decided to adopt a special-needs cat. I also hoped the Soul that had been my previous cat, Austin, would reincarnate and return to me at some point. I’d dreamed this Soul had recently lived a life as a pug puppy with a loving family.

Unexpectedly a tortoiseshell cat with only three legs came into my life. The cat had been rescued on a country road by a kind woman who took her to a veterinarian and paid for treatment to have the injured leg amputated. The woman brought this cat to a pet-adoption agency in hopes of finding a good home for her.

I saw a photo of the disabled cat on the agency’s website and suspected I was to be the cat’s new person. I named her Zimba, or Zim. During her healing process, Zim became a valued member of our family. She even tolerated a harness and leash for going on strolls around the neighborhood with me.

Zim’s Personality

It’s a tortoiseshell cat’s trait to make eye contact with a person and talk a lot. When visitors come to the house, they ask, “Where’s Zim? Can I say hi to Zim?” Zim says hi and wants to be in their laps, and maybe even have a conversation. She especially likes gentleness because she isn’t able to run away from anyone. This special cat loves life and trusts people.

Since she is missing a leg, she likes to stay low to the ground instead of getting up on high things. Sometimes she wants my boyfriend, Mark, and me to either come down to her level or pick her up so she can go where we are. The side of her body is exposed, and cold is uncomfortable for her, so I keep soft rest pads and blankets on the floor. I place little footstools around to help her climb up on the couch or bed.

I’m constantly looking out for Zim’s comfort and trying to find practitioners who can offer her the best health care. Ten years after Austin’s passing, I had asked for the spiritual experience of a pet who needed more of me than I even knew I could give. Zimba has been the perfect cat for this stage of life in which I wanted to be a greater expression of love.

Zim’s Inner Life

Zim has a bond of love with Mark, and we each have dreams with her in which she is swimming like a dolphin in deep water and loving it. She always has four legs in those happy dreams and is free, with no limitations.

One afternoon we were outside with Zim. Relaxed, she was exploring something on the ground, so I had dropped her leash. Suddenly she started running with all her might toward a nearby tree, pulling the leash behind her. She was so focused. She took a big leap up the tree and pulled her body about six feet off the ground to reach its branches. From that high viewpoint, she looked at Mark and me with a sense of accomplishment. Her heart message was clear: “I am much more than a three-legged cat. I am Soul!”

Mark recently had a dream in which, instead of limping, Zim took a giant jump forward as if doing a happy dance. The message she conveyed was, “With this body I am taking a big step toward spiritual freedom.”

A Spiritual Leap Forward

I know Zim is getting more arthritic because of the nature of her disability. It takes much energy for her to move around. Yet Zim has a huge heart. She’s taught me to feel greater love for anyone who has some struggle going on. She helps me recognize every individual is Soul, just as she’s Soul.

I appreciate the twists and turns of Zim’s journey. This Soul was protected and brought safely to me through lifetimes. From Austin to a lifetime as a pug puppy, she returned. From the woman in a rural area who rescued her to the pet-adoption agency that tried to find her a new home, each step moved Zim closer to finding healing and love.

The caption below Zim’s pet-adoption photo on the internet had read, “Don’t feel sorry for me.” Those words were appropriate, because when given the chance for a new life, Zim didn’t stay inside her painful past. She blossomed into Soul on Its journey to spiritual freedom.

Living with Zim is an ongoing, full-time, daily experience of love and compassion. Through loving her, my heart has expanded.

—Photos by Mark Morrison