Let me preface this atypical feline-related blog entry by saying that the poor guy in the photo below has made an amazing recovery and is already scurrying about my parents’ yard, albeit with one less leg.
July was not a good month for my parents’ cat. The little white bundle of limitless energy had always been an explorer and was fiercely independent, even for a cat, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when he did not return home that Sunday night.
My mom started to get worried by the next evening, when he still did not return. By Wednesday, my parents feared the worst. It had been raining all day, and late in the afternoon, my mom heard a faint cry near the top of their yard. He was wet and shivering, his fur caked with blood and pus, and he could barely move; yet somehow he made his way home.
They called the vet at his house, and he met them at his office. The cat had been struck by a vehicle days ago. His leg was crushed and infected, he was starving and dehydrated, and fever had set in. It was uncertain whether he had internal injuries.
They washed him up best they could, and the vet administered some antibiotics. All that was left to do then was wait. If the cat could survive the night and if he could stand on his own three legs, the vet would amputate the cat’s hind leg.
Being able to support his own weight and balance on three legs was crucial; otherwise, the doctor would not operate. If he could not stand on his own before the amputation, he probably never would, and he would have to be put to sleep.
After a night of rest that was probably quite painful, the little guy had a bit more energy. He could lift his head and could, in fact, stand.
The amputation was a success, and he did not seem to have any serious internal injuries. It took him a few days to get used to walking. Using the litter box was the toughest for him. Two weeks later, he got his stitches out.
A month later, he is getting back to normal. However, at least for now, he is no longer allowed outside without a leash and harness. The leash can be attached to the clothesline, so he can run around most of the yard. Months ago he got used to wearing a bell if he wanted to go outside (their bird feeder had become a cat feeder), now he will have to get used to the leash.
One thing that made me wonder about the whole thing was whether a cat’s mind could fully comprehend such a severe trauma. Did he understand the cause and effect, the chain of events that led to those days of severe pain, the loss of his leg, and the subsequent loss of his freedom?