King continues to amaze us. He was once just another hungry stray cat, but with a startling difference. He has no back feet, but somehow this cat survived for the past year on his own. He was dirty, scared and thin. Life at the Palette Factory meant dodging forklifts, trucks and fighting for scraps from the employee's lunch pails. But somehow, through all of that, King made a life for himself.
©2012 Maria. S. Enjoying the good life by his new cat tree.
When our friend, Bobby told me about King, I knew we had to do something. There were plenty of risks taking on a cat like this. Would there be bank-breaking surgeries needed? Would he be nasty? Fractious? Did he suffer from other issues we were yet to discover? Who would adopt him if we DID rescue him?
©2012 Maria. S. King gives us that “come hither and rub my belly” stare.
There are times when although you're aware of all those questions, you have to do something no matter what and that's what we did. Bobby got King over to the Vet and had him spayed, got his shots and tests and went on to Mama-Maria's house to be fostered. Shortly thereafter he was taken to another vet to be x-rayed so we could determine what happened to his legs. We needed to do more tests so a final diagnosis would have to wait.
©2012 Maria. S. Ready for rubbin'!
We had some trying times. King urinated quite a few times on his bedding. When his Palette Factory friend, Miss FP arrived to share the same space with him, he urinated even more outside of the litter pan. Maria thought he might be incontinent, but he was using the pan some times. Over a few weeks, King settled down and he hasn't urinated outside the litter pan after we got him a big cat tree that allows Miss FP to be up high and feel safe and King can stay on the floor on his pillows and feel safe, too.
©2012 Maria S. & Robin Olson. King makes a friend and learns to play.
Bobby took King to see an orthopedic specialist named Dr. Alan Cross. Dr. Cross examined King and reviewed his x-rays. He felt that it was likely that King's issue is due to a deformity and not an accident because if it had been an accident, King would have bled to death. There is either a callus or a bit of a paw pad at the end of each back leg. The legs are almost the same length, but the right one is a bit shorter. King is not a good candidate for a cart or prosthetics. They could do more harm, than good. King might benefit from some soft booties or leggings so we'll look into that. Bottom line-King needs to live in a home with rugs or carpeting because without it only his front legs reach the ground and the others swing freely in the air. On carpet he can plant his back legs and walk somewhat normally.
©2012 Maria. S. What IS that thing?
While all these tests and vet trips were going on, something amazing happened. King began to blossom.
His filthy coat began to shine. The white patches of fur glowed. King's eyes had a sparkle that wasn't there before. He gained some weight so now he has a fullness that was missing before. King made best friends with Maria's cat, Kahlua. The two of them “head butt” each other and even hold paws. Part of me wishes Maria would keep King so he could stay with Kahlua, but it also means that King cold be happy in a forever home that has another kitty already waiting to be his friend.
Sadly, Miss FP has not been interested in forming a friendship, but keeps to herself or enjoys pets when Maria's friends come over to visit.
©2012 Maria. S. Ooo! Cardboard scratchy thing!
The best thing about King is his love for everyone. He's an easy going, sweet natured cat. Considering what his life has been like, he has no reason to be affectionate towards humans, yet he loves people. He's a very special cat and I admit to having a crush on him from afar. I can't wait for him to join us here and I can't wait for the day to arrive when he finds his forever home.
©2012 Maria. S. The day we rescued King. What a wreck, but still regal under all that dirt.
This cat has been through so much, but his future is looking bright. I enjoy the privilege to witness his glorious transformation. It gives me great joy. In fact, I'm walking on air, too.
©2012 Maria. S. A few weeks later, with a belly full of high protein canned food, a few vet visits, a clean, safe place to live and lots of love, King bears little resemblance to his former self.
I was very disappointed when King and Miss Fluffy Pants's (is this her name? It was just a code name, but I think it might stick) reunion was not a happy one. It was clear they were never friends at the Palette factory, where they were both rescued from. Perhaps they even competed for the same scraps of food?
King was nonplused at the first meeting, but Miss FP was pissed. She hissed and growled when Maria let her out of the cat carrier, into the small bathroom that would be her new home. We didn't realize it at the time, but Miss FP had just had a terrible 48 hours. She was sedated, then the Vet realized she'd already been SPAYED! She had her blood drawn and we found out she may be FIV+. She was nose to nose with a big dog at the clinic and she was so distressed when she tried to attack him through the door of the carrier, the momentum of all that energy almost flipped her cat carrier over and onto the floor! With her life turned upside down, from the routine of living on scraps at the Palette factory, to a clinic full of scary smells and a big dog encounter, needless to say, Miss FP was not a happy camper to be yet at another strange place full of different smells.
If Maria had space in her home, she would not have put Miss FP with King, but we had no choice. We had to make it work until we could figure out what to do.
After Maria let Miss into the room, she let it be known that she did not want to be touched or be anyone's friend. She was so fractious that Maria was scared to go near her. Fearing for King's safety and with no other options we decided to put Miss into a crate so at least she couldn't bite King. With a disability to contend with, I didn't want King to be exposed to FIV+, too.
©2012 Maria. S. Miss FP in her little crate.
We were all very unhappy with the situation and I started to scramble, thinking of what I could do to make it better. Maria had to be at work. She couldn't stay home and monitor the cats so Miss was stuck in a tiny cage, probably getting angrier by the minute, while poor King started to cry and urinate all over his bedding.
A day passed and Maria let Miss out of her cage to stretch. She hissed at King, but didn't growl. It was progress, but not much. King was still urinating around the room to the point where we worried he had a urinary tract infection. Maria was very stressed and tired-and who wouldn't be from having to do a mountain of laundry and deal with her own cats and work, then come home to a big mess! I was getting stressed out because I couldn't figure out what to do and living 1000 miles away, I couldn't just come over and help-which I desperately wanted to do.
I realized I had to take it in small steps.
Number one: Western Blot test for Miss-ASAP. If she truly IS FIV+ then maybe she has to go to another rescue? I have two rooms in my home for fostering, that's it, and kitten season is almost here and it will be early this year since the weather is so warm. I can't bring an FIV+ cat who is nasty into my house and hope I will ever find her a home. I'll just end up not being able to help countless other cats if that happens. It was a terrible predicament. We even discussed returning her to the Palette factory now that she was vetted. At least we could donate some food for her and a new cat bed, but I knew in my heart that I'd never sleep again if I did that to her.
I had to find out how to reach this supposedly friendly cat. Bobby had told me she was very affectionate, but all Maria had seen was a cat who would swat at her hand or growl at her.
Maria sent me a photo so I could see some progress in the situation. All of a sudden, alarm bells went off in my head. I realized we had completely misunderstood Miss FP from the start.
©2012 Maria. S. The photo that changed everything for me.
The photo seems innocent enough. King sits near Miss's small cage. Neither cat is looking at the other. Maria interpreted it as King wanting to be close to Miss to be friends, but because he was ignoring her, I looked at it differently. Was King letting Miss FP know HE was in charge of the room-after all he's free to walk about and that HE could sit right up next to her crate and at any given moment, if he wanted to, he could pounce on top of the cage and get her, attack head on or get at her from any side of the crate. She was completely trapped and completely exposed. No wonder she was freaking out!
Maria also mentioned not being able to go near Miss FP. Then, I noticed the food dishes in the crate. They were full. Another alarm went off in my head-the food had to GO. Miss needed to be fed BY Maria, twice a day and that was it. No free feeding her. Miss needed to bond with Maria and see Maria as something good, not bad. Maria was the food provider, not the Dungeon Master!
Miss needed OUT of the cage ASAP. She needed a place in the bathroom to call her own. The problem is-where would that be in a such a small space? Of course…we needed a cat tree!
A cat tree would add a lot of vertical space to the room. Odds are, King would not be able to climb it, but Miss could. She could have the upper area to herself and feel safe. Perhaps that was what she needed?
In the middle of all this craziness, Maria and I are trying to help a pregnant Tortishell cat who was found by an elderly couple in the area! Maria was running around trying to get the cat some help, run Miss FP to the Vet to get her Western Blot test done AND she had to get to the pet store and find a cat tree ASAP!
I'm very lucky Maria is so devoted to helping cats or this would have been a complete nightmare.
Then, another puzzle piece fell into place. Maria warned the Vet Tech at East Lake Vet Hospital, to be very careful handling Miss FP. That she was nasty and might bite. The Tech said she would do her best and took Miss FP into the back of the building to do the blood draw. Awhile later, the Tech came out. Maria was worried something bad had happened and asked how it went. The answer surprised her and gave me a rush of hopeful excitement:
What was the difference? Was there a magic pill that she gave Miss FP? No. First, Miss FP was NOT in a room with another cat. Second, Miss FP didn't have to worry about territory. Third, the Tech probably approached her gently-not that Maria didn't do that, but Maria had grown fearful of the cat. All this adds up to-this cat is NOT fractious-she's ANGRY and SCARED!
Maria got a great cat tree and thanks to the donations we got for King's care, we could afford to get one right away instead of have to shop for one on discount, then wait a week for it to arrive. Maria set up the cat tree. I told her to take the cage out of the room. No more cage for Miss. We had to trust that she would not hurt King. She might take a swipe and him and claw him, but she'd calmed down enough for us to believe she'd not be a risk to give him FIV+. It was a very tough call, but for the sanity of Miss, we had to do it. Unfortunately, King cried with her out of the crate, then urinated on his bed. Was his sick or scared?
I can't explain how I knew what to do, but I can say that within moments of letting Miss investigate the cat tree, it was VERY CLEAR it was what she needed all along.
©2012 Maria. S. There's no footage of Miss FP being fractious because it was too dangerous for Maria to shoot video. She needed to protect herself and King. This video shows what happened after we put the cat tree into their room.
Maria didn't hesitate. She reached out to give Miss FP a pet. Her bravery was rewarded with a head butt into her hand. Maria overcame her reluctance to get close to Miss FP and had the simple joy of getting to know her as she really was all along.
©2012 Maria. S. Safe in her new space, Miss FP enjoys some sunshine.
Miss FP relaxed. Her eyes were soft. Her movements were slow and easy. Her tail did not whip around or even move. She was HAPPY and with her happiness came more surprises.
©2012 Maria. S. The posture and “soft eyes” of a happy cat.
King is still lonely and still loves Maria's cat, Kahlua, who comes in to visit for a few minutes once in awhile. King has also perked up now that he has some toys and the cat tree base to play with!
Although Miss and King are not best friends, they both have safe spaces to live in and places they can call their own. I'm sad that King wants a friend, but can't find one in Miss FP, but with all the surprises we've had, perhaps there are more to come?
©2012 Maria. S. We may make changes for King after this but we'll see how it goes. What do you think?
For now we wait for Miss's blood test results and we hope she is not FIV+.Tomorrow, King goes to meet Dr. Alan Cross, an orthopedic surgeon, who may help us understand what happened to King's back feet and what we can do to help him live a more comfortable life.
I have to admit I didn't feel very hopeful about Bobette's future. In fact I had a lot of doubt that she'd end up being able to keep her leg. Although the sutures are gone, there are no more antibiotics to take, and her fur has started to grow back; she walks with a pronounced limp.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Ho-hum. Bobette doesn't know I'm about to put her in a cat carrier. Hee hee!
I finally got brave enough to touch Bobette's leg. I carefully ran my fingers along the velvety surface where I thought her kneecap should be and I felt a small, sharp object under the skin. I flashed back to the surgery, watching Dr. Mixon digging into her leg. He used some sort of uber-nail-clippers to clip back some of Bobette's bones and I think he said he was making her a new knee cap. Was this what I was feeling, under the surface? Considering her limp, it made sense.
I began to doubt my judgement and curse myself for not spending the $2500.00 to have Bobette's surgery done by an Orthopedic surgeon. What was I thinking trying to save money and hope I could get away with it. Dr. Mixon is a General Practitioner, not a specialist.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Watch this lady zip around and…oops…rip into my HAND! Hilarity ensues…
Today I brought Bobette in for her re-check. Dr. Mixon asked me how she was doing and I glumly replied; “Well, not so good, her kneecap popped out and she is limping a lot.” Bobette was nervous and I had her under a towel as I updated the Vet. Dr. Mixon uncovered Bobette and looked at her leg, then a curious look crossed his face.
He had me hold her on her side so he could manipulate her leg. I told him about the thing I felt when I checked her leg and he shook his head.
“It's not her kneecap, it's the PIN I put into her leg to hold things in place. Her knee is just fine. In fact it's exactly where it should be.”
Dr. Mixon showed me how Bobette's leg is straight. It flexes normally, instead of being crooked. The knee is in place. As he admired the result, he added; “I'm a better surgeon than I thought!”
I just stood there in awe.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Pondering her future.
Dr. Mixon removed the few remaining staples from her incision and I made an appointment for a month from now to have the pin removed from her leg. Until then the game plan is to get her moving more and playing. I'll be taking down the big dog crate that was once her home, throwing away the e-collar she wore for what seemed like an eternity, and getting a few new toys for her to chase.
The next thing we have to work on is to find out why Bobette doesn't seem to like her boys or any other cats, for that matter. After all this-to find out she has to be an only cat, is going to make her adoption very difficult, indeed.
The past 36 hours have been nuts behind the scenes here at Covered in Cat Hair. Initially I was working on rescuing one kitty and within a few hours it turned into three kitties needing help. This is the story of one of those kitties.
Tuesday night I started getting text messages from Maria. Her sister-in-law's friend found an injured cat. They didn't know what to do and weren't going to take it to a Vet. His left front leg was DANGLING and he had a bloody wound under his shoulder. He was acting okay otherwise so they LET HIM BACK OUTSIDE since they didn't want an indoor cat. Fortunately, for him, he came back that night, but they had no intentions of helping him other than rinsing off the wound with saline.
Maria and I started a frantic dialog trying to sort out what our options were. Maria was already taking another cat for me, plus we are going to possibly take in a second cat who needs help, too. Maria started calling and texting everyone she could while I offered her suggestions about how we could get this cat vetted in the morning and what we were going to do next while I was trying to sort out how much money we had and how much it was going to cost to help this cat-without knowing if he needed delicate restoration on his leg or an amputation.
The kitty after the family found him.You can see his left front leg looks a bit odd and he appears to be uncomfortable.
MaryEllen at Winging Cat Rescue offered to foster him for a few weeks if we got the cat vetted. I wasn't even sure we had any funds to do this, but it can't wait. He needed help NOW. Maria sent me photos and they broke my heart. I won't share the gorey photo with you, but the cat was clearly going to lose his leg, we just needed to get him help before it was too late.
I spent the night worrying about what to do. How would I find homes for two handicapped cats? Well, I just would. It would work out. Worry about it later. The cats needed care right away so we would just focus on that.
Wednesday morning I got an update.The orange tabby needed to have his leg removed, including the shoulder. He had puncture wounds under his arm and was battling a massive infection. A DOG or WILD ANIMAL had been trying to rip his leg off. As someone still recovering from a cat bite to my hand, I understood the severity of the situation. The tabby hadn't had antibiotics for a few days. He didn't have much time left before the infection spread to his heart and killed him. I was told he was a very very sweet cat, which somehow made the news even worse. Even if they put him on antibiotics and let his wounds heal, it would be a week before he could have any surgery done to correct his leg and it was likely the nerves were severed and could not be repaired. I think it was just too far gone for too long.
Making the very difficult decision…
Winging Cat Rescue offered to take the cat into their program. In a way I was disappointed that we couldn't help him more, but they have much better resources than I do. They've named him Rawhide and once he's had time to recover from his injury he will be put up for adoption. If you'd like to know more about how to give this very sweet and mellow kitty a home, or help with his Vet care, please contact WCR or visit their website.
Update: The family who took the cat into their home, who said they couldn't afford Vet care for Rawhide and let him basically suffer for a few days, said their child has formed a bond with the cat and they want to adopt him…but they have three dogs and they will let the cat go back outdoors since they don't want an "inside" cat. While I think it's very nice they want to adopt, I hope Rawhide finds a home with a family who can be sensitive to his needs and be able to provide for all aspects of his well being. This is a lovely cat who's been through Hell. He deserves a safe and loving environment and I hope he finds one soon.
WARNING: the video of Bobette walking may make you sad and it shows her injury quite clearly. Also, there is an out-of-focus photo of her injury that may upset the squeamish.
Bobette's been on one Hell of a journey along a very bumpy road. Just when I think we've rounded a corner, something unexpected occurs. I realize I'm getting caught up in this cycle of hope and fear with her situation. I have to hope she WILL regain the use of her leg and will be comfortable, but what if she doesn't? What if I have to make the choice to have her leg amputated? This is something I don't know if I have the courage to do for her and I hope it will not come to pass. In the meantime, let me catch you up on how she's doing.
After the first few days with the bandage, we adjust to a new routine. Every morning I check on Bobette to see what sort of mess I need to clean up. She can't manage getting around and often I discover wet cat litter on the edge of her e-collar, indicating she's fallen face first into the dirty litter. The inside of her crate is in disarray. Some times she pees outside the crate onto the floor. I started putting training pads on the floor around the crate to help offset this problem. I never get mad. It makes me sad. I hate this life for her. I so want it to be over-for her to be free from the crate and feeling well again. I must be patient. She will get there…she will get there…
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The morning mess.
Sam often spends time holding Bobette as I clean up the mess and get her fed. It's a nice time for her because she can stretch out and relax without her e-collar on. The day before her bandage was to come off, we left off her e-collar as well. She wasn't picking at the bandage and without the e-collar she had some hope of sleeping in an more normal position. It's very clear she's not getting much rest as she often falls asleep while Sam holds her. Between the pain from her surgery, being in an uncomfortable crate and her body working on healing, she must be exhausted.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The morning before the big day. Bobette is non plused.
The big day finally arrived. I couldn't wait to get Bobette to Dr. Mixon's to get the bandage off. I had to borrow Sam's car because we had about six inches of snow, followed by frozen rain and with my car being 2wd, there was no way I was going to get to our appointment on time.
Bobette cried in her carrier just once, then was quiet for the rest of the trip. I kept looking at the clock. I had to drive slowly but the roads weren't too bad. I got there right on time-at 11am. No sooner than I walked in the door, I was told that my appointment was for 9am! But I wouldn't have agreed to that time because that's about when the cats get fed. I didn't have time to worry about it because they said they'd squeeze Bobette in between appointments. Couldn't we just get this over with? I really couldn't wait any longer!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sleepy Bobette.
A few minutes later, Bobette and I were in one of the exam rooms. Dr. Mixon and his Vet Tech began working on removing the bandage. I was worried that Bobette would become fractious, as she'd done so many 21s before. Initially there were no problems other than a lot of material to cut through.
With just about all the bandaging off, Bobette started to get VERY DISTRESSED. She started screaming as the last piece of tape was coming off. Dr. Mixon stopped and he and the Tech tried to restrain her. I tried to help, but she was thrashing around and shrieking so loudly, there was no calming her down. I foolishly tried to reach out to her and she bit down HARD into the top of my hand. I felt her canine teeth meet under my flesh. Everyone let go of Bobette and she began to urinate all over the exam table, then threw herself off the table and onto the floor. I was crying out to her, worried she had just broken her leg. My hand was throbbing badly and I felt woozy. There was a sink nearby so I washed my hand, pushing the blood out of it as best I could. I knew how filthy cat's mouths are and that I just signed myself up for a trip to the ER if we didn't get my hand clean-fast.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandage removal time!
It was all a crazy blur. I was trying not to cry. The pain was unbearable, but I was still worried about Bobette. Dr. Mixon got big gloves out and we got the cat into the cat carrier to recover. They'd have to sedate her later and get the rest of the bandage off. No one understood what upset her so severely until much later. In the meantime, Dr. Mixon urged me to go see a Dr. right away.
I was lucky the Clinic could fit me in if I could get there in 10 minutes. I met with Maureen, the Nurse Practioner. She said I needed to be on antibiotics as soon as possible and that if the infection spread-which it could do even with the oral antibiotics, that I'd have to go to the ER in a few days. Great. I don't have health insurance, or money, for that matter. What an idiot I was.
I was still pretty shaky and my hand hurt badly even though it didn't look like much. I picked up the antibiotics which were $71.00! I needed to kill some time while they were working on Bobette, so I called Gene, a friend and local pet sitter and asked him if he wanted to meet me and have some soup at the local grocery store. I'd seen him there before and figured he might be in the area. Sure enough, he said the timing was good and we had a little visit.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My hand is already turning purply blue and starting to swell just minutes after I was bitten.
Gene is so cheerful, it put me in a good mood. We talked about bad pet parents and his grandson (who he adores like no other), then told me he was just about to pick up his new car. This is big news since Gene's car has 180,000+ miles on it and he's getting a brand new RED VW Bug! Our chat helped me get my mind off my hand. Everything would sort out. It was just another bump in the road.
I ended up going home for about 45 minutes, then left for Dr. Mixon's to pick up Bobette. The shock from being bitten must have been getting to me because suddenly I was so tired I just wanted to sleep. I promised myself as soon as I got home and got Bobette settled, I'd get some rest. I'd already taken an antibiotic so that was hopefully starting to kill the pasteurellosis that was making my hand swell up.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh my goodness!
I got back to Dr. Mixon's in good time. I realized I'd forgotten to even find out if Bobette's patella was still in place or if it had moved out, back to it's old location. I didn't have to wait long for the news. Some of it was very troubling and some, hopeful.
While Bobette was sedated, Dr. Mixon examined her leg. The patella, oddly enough, was STILL in PLACE! Bobette still has at least a month to go before we know if she'll be able to walk normally, but this was promising news. Now I had to keep her from jumping, encourage her to walk and give her time to heal.
The bad news was that the wooden tongue depressor he used as part of the splint in her bandage, had slipped down and been rubbing onto the back of her leg, causing a horrific wound. One of Bobette's toes had a cut on it, which I knew happened just after the surgery. It was not healing due to being in the bandage for so long. Both injuries were going to heal in time, but one had pus in it, which meant more antibiotics for Bobette and and more difficult recovery. When I saw the wound it was clear why she was in so much pain. Looking at her leg makes me hurt, too.
I have a lot of guilt about this. I've tried so hard to do the right thing for her and I failed. It will be even harder for her to walk at all with the added injuries to her leg-which was clear when I got her home.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette's first steps.
I set up the bigger crate for her new home and gave her a real cat litter pan to use-at last. She went to it right away, got in, peed and got out, but her leg was very weak. Sam put her on the floor and we had her walk over to me. She was reluctant to uncurl her paw to even place it on the floor. As she walked, she wobbled. Some times she used her paw and some times not. I tried to put some calendula cream on her wound but she is so sensitive, I had to leave it alone. How is this cat going to recover from all these injuries and walk again?
I just don't know. I know I'll be there for her as we find out. Bobette is young and strong. Now that her bandage is off, she'll have a chance to heal. One day we'll know if this was all worth it or just a waste of time. It's too soon to tell.
For now, we both need some rest.
While I had my complete-black-out-nap, my phone rang. It was on the table in my office. I didn't hear it ring. If I had, I would have answered the call. It was none other than “Cat Daddy,” Jackson Galaxy. I awoke to discover a voice mail from him, which of course made me swoon with glee. Through the fog of the nap, I tried to activate my over-stressed brain so I could call him back.
My words got caught up in my mouth, but somehow I managed to have a somewhat logical conversation with “the man.” Initially I called to discuss a secret thing with him, but we veered off topic and started to talk about cats. Even though I spend 99% of my day doing something with, to or for cats, talking with Jackson was pure delight. He told me how thrilled he was for all the support he got for the Premiere of “My Cat From Hell” and that the ratings SHOCKED the folks at Animal Planet. Not only did MCFH do well, it BEAT OUT ALL THE OTHER SHOWS for the entire 4th Quarter of last year!
Now we just have to help Jackson keep it up…her hee..so to speak.
As we spoke, Jackson, graciously offered up an idea that will be a surprise I'll be sharing with you in a week.
But what about Bobette?!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Drugged up. Not happy and wanting OUT!
Bobette got out of her e-collar and ripped out her IV at the Vet. She was a “bad” patient. I was supposed to pick her up in the morning, but I ended up not getting her until well into the afternoon. Before she left I had to help hold her down so her leg could be bandaged up again. Dr. Mixon had to use many layers to wrap her leg so it would stay in one position for the next 12 days (or years as it's been feeling like). She complained and growled during the bandaging, clearly she did NOT care to be touched and who could blame her?
Also, Bobette was being given Buprenex, which made her pupils dilate and act very lovey-dovey, but was too weak to stand. I got her home and awkwardly positioned her into her crate. Of course she started to cry and roll around. I begged her to sit still and rest. She was very agitated and, I'm sure in a lot of pain. I felt about one inch tall.
I covered her crate and let her rest, but the second I got downstairs to my office, I heard her banging around on the floor above. I went up and checked on her. She'd made a big mess of her cage. I straightened everything out and left her to rest. Again she started banging around. This went on for a good hour. I was to the point of losing my mind. I already felt bad even looking at her, but I quickly realized she couldn't even use her litter pan. She was just too weak and I was irritated that I had to keep running up to check on her every few minutes. How was I ever going to get any work done? I know that's selfish but I have to make a living!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. First night-bandage is coming off already. Now what to do?
I helped her get into the pan, realizing the sides were way too high. I held her, hoping she would do her thing, but she just wriggled away and I freaked out thinking she was going to break her leg again. I tried to carefully put her down, but she fought me and fell over. She just rolled around, not able to get into any position that would quiet her down. I felt completely overwhelmed, not having a clue as to how to properly care for a cat in such a sad state. This was nothing like caring for a cat with an upper respiratory infection.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette is such a good girl as we assess what to do about fixing the bandage on her leg.
Then I noticed her bandage. It was slipping down her leg. She was going to be able to bend her knee, if she didn't do so already. I called out to Sam, asking him to help me with her. I ran into the bathroom, looking frantically for some first aid tape. We had about an inch left in the container. I gently tried to pull Bobette's bandage up, but she screamed in pain. I started to cry and shake. I didn't know what to do. Dr. Mixon's office was closed.
I asked Sam to go the store and get more tape and anything else that would work. It's just a bandage. We can deal with this. I held Bobette in my lap, careful that her injured leg would fall over my knee. She calmed down some, but the adhesive on her e-collar was coming off. Oh boy, what luck.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette in her tiny recovery “suite.”
We tried in vain to repair the bandage, but nothing stuck to her fur. I was beyond worried and in truth, I flipped out. Looking back on it, I realize I had PMS. Oh joy. That always helps me be calm, damn it!
It was nearly midnight the first night Bobette was home. Sam and I decided to take her to the Emergency Vet to re-do the bandage. They told me the cost for an exam was $90.00 IF we got there BEFORE midnight and $145.00 if we got there AFTER midnight. Are you kidding me? I asked for a rescue discount and they did not provide one. Nice. It was going to cost almost as much to re-do her bandage as it did to do the SURGERY!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Finally, some rest after a long few days.
We got to the ER at 12:02am. The woman who met us at the door, looked at her watch and said with a mischievous smile; “Just midnight now. Good timing.”
An HOUR later, Bobette finally had her bandage adjusted. We decided to just get it so it would stay on during the night because the other option was to sedate her and re-do the bandage completely, which odds were, she would just shake it off anyway; plus it was going to put the total damage to $400.00!
The Vet replaced just the top portion of the bandage and Bobette relaxed in her crate. We drove home in silence. I imagined this was the beginning of a complete nightmare of trying to keep her from undoing the bandaging and ruining any chance she had for the repair to heal.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is how you fall in love with your foster cat.
I also realized that her crate was too big. She needed to be confined to a smaller space that forced her to either sit on a cat bed or use the litter pan and that was it…and the litter pan's sides were far too high. I needed something with barely an edge on it. Fortunately we had a large baking sheet that fit the bill. And no, I am not going to re-use it after Bobette heals up! Really? Do you really think I would do that?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is your cat on drugs.
I got everything set up in a new crate. Bobette flopped over. We left. It was about 2am and I was going to get up in a few hours, but I passed out cold and slept until 8am. I was afraid to look in on Bobette.
She was sitting in her crate, looking at me. She cried. She hadn't made to much of a mess. She was still goofy from being drugged up. Her bandage was still on and so was her e-collar. She has to be held in someone's lap to be fed, so Sam volunteered. We took off her e-collar so she could reach her food. She didn't eat very well for a few days, but she did eat.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. No more drugs on board!
Sam kept her company while I tended to clean up and providing for whatever Sam needed. I brought him his glasses, his book. I made coffee for him-anything to keep him in the room. Bobette relaxed and later that night she slept during my turn to care for her. She passed out on the bed, the last of her drugs wearing off. I did me a lot of good to see her like that.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Stretching out on Sam.
The next few days were difficult, but not as bad. We developed a new routine. Sam and I both had to provide care for Bobette because one person had to hold her while the other cleaned up the many messes. Bobette's aim wasn't the best and I went through a box of “wee-wee” pads and had to do a lot of laundry. As Bobette began to feel better, I offered her a scratching pad which she eagerly dug into. It was very endearing to see her do something normal, only have to sit like a human to do it. I secured a small scratcher to her cage in case she would use it there, as well, but mostly we just give her “scratchy-time” during each break from her cage.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Scratchy time!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. How to sit in a lap when your leg is bandaged.
What's really nice about this experience is that I've finally gotten to know Bobette. She's a doll. She has no problem sitting in my lap for hours. She purrs, eats well and her nasty contusions around the upper part of her bandage have healed. She loves Sam and I think the feeling is mutual. She also is a bit of a Houdini because she managed to get out of her e-collar for a few hours. Thankfully she picked at her bandage but didn't do much to it. It's still in place a week after it was re-worked. We only have three and a half MORE days to go until the bandage comes off. I cannot WAIT.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Watching crappy TV.
It's a lot of work and takes a lot of time to care for Bobette. I'm glad the worst days may be past us and I hope good days are to come. I had to remove Mikey and Jakey from the room early on. She just couldn't tolerate them any more and they were afraid of her. I don't often see a Mother react so angrily towards her offspring, but we must keep the peace, so the boys are in the bathroom for now…well..the boy…one of our Pumpkin Patch babies got adopted last night and one is coming back to us. It's all a bit of a mess, but it will be worked out.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Feelin' pretty good now!
It's late Friday and Bobette seems a little better every day and a little more accepting of having to wear the cone of shame and a clunky bandage on her leg. Dr. Mixon said there's no way to know if her leg is dying under that bandage. If it's too tight from re-bandaging, she will lose blood flow and lose the leg. The only way to know is to take off the bandage! So now, of course, I'm very worried. We can't take off the bandage, Bobette seems fine, but what is going on under that dressing? It was bad enough I had to worry that the surgery was a failure, but now what if her leg is useless? I don't believe I signed up for this. Nope.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette this morning.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A week since the surgery-doing just fine.
I'm going to decide that her leg is all right. Walking may not be easy, but if her leg was necrotic, I really hope she'd show some signs of feeling lousy or crabby or something. For now she is sweet as can be and so easy to love. I want to provide the best for her and I hope I've made good choices to help that happen. Sam and I have a crush on this girl and we can't let her down.
It's like anything else. I just have to give it time. Bandages come off in two and a half more days..tick tock!
THIS IS PART ONE SO YOU'RE SAFE.
It's rather ironic that there's so much going on in my life to write about, yet I don't have time to write any of it down. Meanwhile the days slip by and the details become a bit fuzzy around the edges.
Last week marked the first time I'd ever witnessed anything more than a spay surgery. It was time for Bobette to have surgery to (hopefully) correct her luxated patella. The poor girl couldn't walk without limping. Her kneecap was so far out of place it was a wonder she could run or jump at all. She mostly used her other legs for jumping and if she got really inspired to go after a toy, her back end would slip out from under her when she ran. Clearly, she needed help, but there was no guarantee she would ever walk normally again. Getting a kneecap back in place is one thing, but to get it to STAY in place is another.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette's future home while she recovers with commentary from her boys, Jakey & Mikey.
There was much to do to prep for Bobette's life after surgery. Dr. Mixon, her Vet, wanted her to have cage rest for three weeks, so I got out my biggest dog crate and set it up, not realizing I was making a big mistake. I'd never had a cat with an invasive surgery on a limb to recover from-of course I'd cared for Bob after 1/2 of his liver was removed just a year ago, but all I had to do for him was make sure he was eating and staying quiet on his heated bed. With Bobette, I'd have to keep her from moving at all costs. I hated to lock her up in a cage, and force her to wear the “cone of shame,” but she had to rest.
In the first week, should Bobette be able to bend her leg at all, she would ruin the surgery and her kneecap would pop back out. We had to give it time to set in it's new position and that meant a lot of sitting around. For a year old cat, who wants to play, that was a lot to ask for.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The welcome committee at Dr. Mixon's practice. Look familiar?
The morning of the surgery I was feeling hopeful, but scared. I thought I'd be sitting in the waiting room until they finished up, but Dr. Mixon came out and asked me, or was it told me?, I should come back and see the surgery. My heart dropped into my pants. ME? Watch? Even though I watch all those ER “reality” shows on TV, I ALWAYS look away when they get into the gory surgery scenes. There was no looking away from this, but could I handle it without throwing up or fainting?
I didn't realize I'd have to help out, which is not a problem at all, especially considering Dr. Mixon was doing the surgery for about $2000.00 less than an Orthopedic surgeon would have charged. Dr. Mixon is a General Practitioner, not a specialist, but he admittedly enjoys doing orthopedic procedures and another friend said her dog did well after Dr. M. did a similar surgery on him.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Last pets before surgery.
Bobette was sitting in her cat carrier, her pupils dilated. She hadn't had breakfast-of course-because anesthesia can cause the cat to vomit and you don't want her to aspirate anything into her lungs and get pneumonia. It's better not to have a full tummy (but you tell that to the cat!). Two days before we'd been in this same waiting room together, but only to get Bobette's pre-operative blood work done so we could make sure she'd be healthy enough for surgery. With three people holding her down, there was no way to get her blood, so we had to hope that being so young she'd be fine under anesthesia-this is not something I'm happy to report. I'm sure as we sat together, Bobette was getting very tense, probably reliving what happened those few days prior and I wondered if she'd become so fractious that we'd be able to do the surgery at all.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After being given something to relax her a bit, Bobette and I share a few moments before her surgery prep begins.
I brought her into the back of the Practice and sat her on an exam table. The Vet tech was getting supplies ready and I asked her to walk me through what was going to happen next and what she'd want me to do. Mostly I had to just hold Bobette down and not lose any fingers in the process but I kept thinking' “I'm a Graphic Designer! I'm a Graphic Designer. I'm NOT A VET TECH! WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!”.
I took the lead and spoke very calmly to Bobette. I didn't restrain her very tightly. We were very quiet as we worked on her. It wasn't difficult at all to give Bobette a few shots. One was to relax her so we could insert the IV, which would be in place during surgery and provide her with fluids. The other was the dreaded Metacam, which I challenged Dr. M. on giving her because it's known to cause renal failure. He quickly pushed back and said it was safe if she was kept hydrated. I was really tweaked that he gave it to her after all I'd heard about it killing cats more than helping them, but what could I do? Now I'm thinking we'll have to do a post op-blood test to see if she's ok.
I held Bobette down so the Tech could insert an IV into her leg. I was really feeling like a traitor. Here is this sweet cat. I don't know her very well, but I still care about her. She's scared, drugged up and only at the beginning of what is going to be a very awful day. I couldn't blame Bobette as she pitched a fit and shrieked as the Tech tried to shave her front leg. Try as we might, we couldn't get her to settle down so it was decided she needed to be gassed so she would just konk out.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I will never look at another storage tub the same way again, ever. I was not a happy camper seeing this.
The Tech grabbed a plastic storage tub with holes cut into either end. One end was taped up and the other was open. She attached a hose to the open end, then had me place Bobette inside the bin. She barely fit. I started to realize maybe this is what they do to kill cats at shelters? I wanted to grab the box, get Bobette out and RUN for it. This just seemed inhumane, but what do I know about this---nothing other than it really bothered me to see this happening.
The Tech snapped down the lid and turned a dial allowing the gas to enter the box. Bobette didn't fuss at all and in a few minutes was slumped down, oblivious to the world around her. It's VERY UNNERVING to see an unconscious cat. They might as well be dead, because it's not much different. I kept wondering how anyone could do this to animals every day and not have nightmares each night.The Tech told me she was going to remove the lid FAST. I had to get Bobette out of the box, then run with the box into a back room and NOT BREATHE ANYTHING IN OR I WOULD PASS OUT, TOO.
I told her to do a countdown and on…“1” we jumped into action. I couldn't be distracted by Bobette being so limp. I put her down, grabbed the box and ran off, making sure the lid didn't come back off. I was weirdly tempted to open the lid and take a big sniff so I had a reason not to see the surgery, but I figured I would hit my head when I passed out, too. Probably not the best idea.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After being intubated, the IV is set. Bobette is completely out of it, thankfully.
Then began a very long process of preparing Bobette's leg for surgery. I kept wondering how long she could be unconscious without it doing her harm. The Tech asked me to adjust a light or hold something or get this or that. She began to shave Bobette and we discovered she has very odd fur. It grows in different directions and was difficult to trim down close to her skin. I noticed that Bobette has a tuft of fur on her neck that reminds me of Alfalfa from the Our Gang show (It's probably before your time, so here's a link )
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette gets a furcut.
Poor Bobette. I just wanted to take her home, but the surgery hadn't even begun. She looked so helpless laying on the table. I whispered to her that it was going to be okay. I hoped it wasn't a lie. A monitor nearby beeped every time her heart beat. As long as we heard the beep, she was okay.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Aww..Bobette!
Bobette's leg was wiped down a few times. Dr. Mixon saw what the Tech was doing and stopped her. She missed a spot on Bobett's leg right under the tape that held her leg in place. She had to shave it down and re-do all the antiseptic wipes, which again, Dr. Mixon corrected, making certain that the area where the sugary was being done was NOT getting wiped over twice. Even though it took a lot of time, I was glad he was a stickler for keeping things clean.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. iping down her leg. Make it nice and clean.
So far, so good. I was on my feet. I hadn't passed out. Okay, no blood yet, either. Sheesh! I got this far, I need some credit.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. All set. What's next?
Bobette was fine so far. I was fine, too, but was glad I wasn't attached to a heart monitor because everyone would know just how scared I was. Bobette's monitor kept beeping along…beep…beep…beep.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Dr. Mixon begins his part of the prep work.
Then Dr. Mixon began draping Bobette with layers of cloth that would allow him to focus only on her leg and also to keep the surgical area cleaner. I kept thinking that surely he was done, but he'd add another layer. Then he slipped a small sock over Bobette's leg and cut a hole into it which was over the area where he'd be making the incision. After he created the opening, he quickly sutured around the edges of the opening so the fabric would stay in place. This was the final task he had before he could get started.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Paging Dr. Robin! Does this mask make my face look fat?
He was very focused and there was little talking. The only sound was the beeping of the monitor. Dr. Mixon looked up for a moment and said; “Now you know why these surgeries cost so much money.” And even before he made one cut, I understood. The prep work took at least an hour if not more. When he was done, Bobette the cat was gone and in her place was an alien leg sprouting from a field of pale green sterile sheets.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Where's Bobette?
…stay tuned for Part Two: SURGERY…next.
the DOOD started coughing three days ago. At first I thought it was a hairball, but quickly realized it was something far worse. This sort of cough is not a "hairball" cough. I got the DOOD to visit with Dr. Mixon yesterday morning, a few minutes before he began the surgery on Bobette. Because it was a last minute appointment there wasn't time to run any tests. He suggested we put DOOD on clavamox and see how he did, but something didn't sit right with me because he said it might be an obstruction, not illness.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. the DOOD, not feeling well at all…
Last night DOOD continued to have coughing fits, but he ate well and seemed quiet, but not completely out of touch with the other cats. I made an appointment for him to see Dr Larry at 9:30am. The morning couldn't come fast enough-even though I knew it was going to cost a lot more money for this Vet visit. I couldn't let DOOD suffer or possibly get a lot worse and need hospitalization.
DOOD was great at the Vet. He let everyone handle him without complaint. Dr. Larry thought the DOOD was adorable, but was concerned after he heard DOOD cough-which thankfully he did so Larry could get a better read on what was going on. I know the look on Larry's face when something isn't right and clearly DOOD didn't have a minor issue.
They did chest X-rays and blood work. The blood work didn't give them any additional information, but the x-rays showed an interstitial pattern in the top of his lungs. It might be pneumonia or something else. It's too soon to know. Right now DOOD has antibiotics on board via a shot but tomorrow I'm to start him on 2 weeks of clavamox and hopefully that will help him feel better.
1. I'm worried about the DOOD, of course. I love that boy to bits and I worry we will lose him if he gets worse (which he was doing this afternoon so they gave him a shot instead of wait for me to start giving him meds when we got home)
2. I'm terrified that this is contagious. A few of the cats have a very mild URI. What if they ALL get this? It will bankrupt me, in addition to completely causing me to fall apart. I'm so close already and with Bobette's care-which has to be 24/7 right now, I'm just whipped, broken and beaten.
3. And what will happen to the cats…Spencer has breathing issues already. Gracie is going to the Vet tomorrow to begin the process of having a big cyst removed from her abdomen that might be cancer.
4. Bobette's kittens, who have had the runs for weeks-who we started on a de-wormer and flagyl have WORSE stool now…worse than ever!!! So I had to run to the vet for the 4th time today to drop off a stool sample for them to be tested.
There's just too much going on all at once with no one to help. I really need a volunteer foster home for Kitten Associates so maybe some one can foster the two kittens while I focus on their mom-who can't walk at all and who is whacked out on buprenex and falls over and can't get up-so I have to be with her all the time.
I have so much to catch you up on, but this is all I have time for. I need to raise some funds to help offset the costs for the DOOD. I hope to GOD he doesn't need to see a specialist and I know we just did a fundraiser for Bobette. If you can't help out, that's completely fine, don't feel bad. Every little bit helps right now and I appreciate whatever anyone can do.
Last night foster mama-Maria, called me, worried about Jackson Galaxy, the cat we rescued last week who was named after the uber-cat-listener-of the same name. We'd already discussed that Jackson has been aggressive, biting Maria's hands and clawing her legs. Because he was just neutered a week ago, we thought we'd give it time and Maria was going to adjust how she approached him. Jackson had almost 2 years of being an intact male and probably had plenty of hormones still working through his body. We needed to give him time to adjust and get rid of all that testosterone.
Because Jackson's in a small bathroom I also asked Maria to be observant about where she is in relationship to the cat. Did he feel cornered? Was he attacking out of fear?
Very slowly Maria saw some improvements. Jackson could be petted and he did purr, but last night something was not right with Jackson-not right at all. Jackson was lying in the bathtub, pale smears of pink-BLOOD-were on the porcelain. Jackson was licking at his scrotum and when she looked at it, it was red, slightly inflamed and she saw some blood. She called “Doc” Thomas, who runs the Spay/Neuter clinic at Noah's Ark and asked her what to do. Doc said to bring him in in the morning.
©2012 Maria. S. Jackson, last night.
Jackson wouldn't eat. Maria had to force feed him after trying many different tempting options. I asked if she could take his temp, but she said he didn't feel hot. She tested his blood sugar and it was normal. I thought he was getting an infection or brewing the dread shelter-virus, but his eyes were not watery, only his coat looked unkempt.
Maria took the day off so she could rush Jackson to Noah's Ark, where Jackson was neutered. Jackson's temp. had risen to 104.4°F-high normal is 101°F. Jackson's scrotum was enlarged-an obvious infection was brewing. In four years of doing neuters, Doc had only seen this happen ONE other time.
©2012 Maria. S. Jackson getting prepped for surgery.
Jackson was sedated and Doc opened up his scrotum. She said it was good to see blood, that it meant the tissue was not dead. She could drain it, then give him a course of strong antibiotics and he should recover. I asked Maria if he'd have to wear “the cone of shame” (an Elizabethan collar), but she said no.
©2012 Maria. S. It's tough to look at, but now his painful, swollen scrotum will be healing up and feeling better very soon..
Jackson's waking up from the procedure as I write this. He's already gotten antibiotics. Hopefully this was just a bump in the road and from here out he'll not only be feeling better, but perhaps acting more calm with Maria, too. It's possible he's been in pain, first from the surgery and then from the infection—and what guy wouldn't lash out if his scrotum hurt?!
Another reminder to all of us that if your cat's behavior changes you should get him or her to the Vet, first. You never know what may be going on and it's important to rule out illness when you discover a behavioral problem.
As for Jackson, I see a lot of treats in his future!
Tomorrow is Bobette's orthopedic surgery. I'm thinking the theme for this weeks' blog may be "graphic photo warning-week." I hope it will also be, “cats who were feeling lousy but are on the road to recovery week”, too.
I've been getting to know Bobette since she and her boys arrived last month. Right off the bat, I noticed Bobette angrily going after her kittens and I asked my Vet about it. He suggested it was due to her being spayed and the boys being big enough to leave and that in the wild, they would have been cast off to prevent them from in-breeding with the colony. It made sense, but it troubled me to see her doing that. The boys were not being injured, just scared off.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette getting some love from her boys.
But what I've come to understand is that Bobette is in pain and I believe that's what makes her lash out. She can be a warm and affectionate Mother. Her boys often come over to her and rub up against her, but if they try to play or get too close to her leg, she growls and swats at them.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette often sits with her leg stretched out. I hate seeing her like this and can't wait for her to get better!
Bobette's limp, which used to be almost unnoticeable, is now pronounced. She wants to chase after toys, along with her boys and some times she does, but her back legs go out on her and then her limp gets even worse. She doesn't jump much these days and she sits awkwardly on the bed. At times she extends her leg, stretching it out, trying to pop her sublimated kneecap back into position, but it won't go.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is Bobette standing, not walking.
Her injury is rated a 4 out of 4-the worst it can be. Although the Vets in Georgia told us she didn't need surgery, our Vet, Dr. J. Chris Mixon, feels she would do very well and have a much more comfortable life with it. I asked if her kneecap would pop back out and he said no and that he often does this surgery on much smaller patients and those stay in place (those little pocket-pal dogs), so this should go fairly well.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mikey waiting for his forever home.
After surgery Bobette will have to have THREE WEEKS of cage rest and THREE WEEKS of mild exercise. I will HATE crating her, but I know it's nothing compared to a lifetime of being able to run and jump like a normal cat. Bobette was either struck by a car or hurt by a human. However she got this way, I'm determined to help her be whole again.
The cost to repair Bobette's leg is not going to be $100.00 as I first reported. I don't know if I misunderstood or the other factors, like a pre-op blood test, weren't taken into account. Dr. Mixon, is still giving us a tremendous and very generous discount. Instead of paying $2500.00, he's only asking for $500.00. One of our friends already donated $100.00 to her surgery so we only need to raise a little bit more.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mikey (right) and Mom (left)-hard to tell them apart and Mikey is about half Bobette's age.
If you can help, your donation is Tax Deductible as the funds go to my 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation, Kitten Associates. To donate, use the ChipIn widget, above or you can mail a check made out to "Kitten Associates" and mail it to:
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354
Every dollar counts and if you can't donate, then if you can share this info on FB or Twitter that would be just great! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!