Sunday, 31 May 2020

Ah, the joys of being a pet guardian

I have lived with cats for 55 years now and in all that time I have not had a single cat do this particular bit of idiocy. They all seem to do silly things on a regular basis, but not on this epic scale.

I work days and evenings, usually two week stretches of each. Evenings, I get home a little after midnight. This past Monday, when I strolled in the door at 12:35 a.m., the 3 girls met me at the door. I walked in to the living room and Andi was lying on the carpet runner in his usual spot, looking up at me. I said hello and reached down to pet him. He then stood up. That's when I figured out why he hadn't been at the door as he usually is when I come home. He was holding his right hind leg up off the floor. When I tried to touch it, he hopped away and growled. So I immediately took him in my bedroom, closed the door to keep the girls out, and tried to check him out. I found no external injuries, and it wasn't poking out at an odd angle, but he still didn't want me to touch it. It obviously hurt a great deal.

So I phoned my vet. The clinic I use does their own emergency call at night, which I appreciate, because all the vets know all my pets, as I have been going there for over 17 years. Because the limb was not displaced, we elected to keep him confined for the night, with water and a litter box and I would take him in first thing in the morning. I got him set up in my bedroom, gave him some food (as I always feed the cats their final meal when I get home) and a dose of pain med that was left over from last fall when Lila had had a recurrent attack of chronic pancreatitis. There was just enough for one dose for his size and it is good for 12 hours, so that was perfect.

When I got the litter box in the room, he immediately hopped in and had a huuuuge pee. He obviously had been unable to get into the basement where the litter boxes are for a number of hours. He also pooed, ate his food, drank a bit of water and settled on the warm bed I made for him on the floor. He was actually quiet all night. I heard him get up once to pee again. Aska meowed for a while, annoyed that he was allowed in my room at night (usually none of the cats are) and she wasn't. Around 3:30, Pips decided to start yelling in the living room (being deaf, she can be extremely loud) and that woke both of us!

I got him to the clinic and dropped him off (the pandemic means no humans get to go into the clinic). The vet called me in the afternoon after they had sedated him and xrayed his leg. It was definitely broken: the tibia was shattered and the fibula snapped in two. Good job, buddy. *sigh*

The options were three: get the orthopedic vet specialist to put a plate and screws in the leg (best); have my vet put a rod in the tibia and an external fixation device to stabilize it (can be fraught with complications); amputation. Those are also in order of cost from highest to lowest. Given that Andi is only a year old and very healthy, and I had room on credit cards to pay for this, I opted for the plate. It will give him the best chance at having a normal leg for the rest of his life. I know three legged cats (and dogs) do well and that was definitely a consideration, but I figured why not try and keep him a four legged animal, if I could?

So on Thursday, he had a three hour operation to plate his leg. The surgeon phoned me afterwards and said the surgery went well, despite the bone being shattered worse than what showed on the initial xrays. I picked Andi up Saturday morning and brought him home.

His recovery is now 6+ weeks living in a large dog kennel where his movement is very restricted. He is on antibiotics (standard for any bone surgery) and pain meds for the next 10 days. I have to take him to my vet weekly for dressing and splint changes. In about 10 days, the staples will come out of the incision. The leg will be xrayed at 4 and 8 weeks to see how it is healing. That will determine when the splint comes off and when I can start a bit of massage and physio on his leg to get the joints moving again. He has been good so far. I do get him out of the kennel for meals (me holding him), for snuggles and scratches (when I can take the cone off as he is supervised) and for drinks of water. I tried a bowl in the kennel but he was dumping it, dragging that leg around, and I don't want the bandage getting wet. I did buy one of those water bottles you use for rabbits and hamsters today so we will see if he will figure it out. I dabbed a bit of wet catfood juice on it and he did lick it, but I don't know if he will figure out that there is water in there. Hopefully.

He has a litter box in the kennel, a soft fuzzy blanket, and a piece of sheepskin that used to reside on one of the cat trees for well padded bedding. He's been good so far, but in a few weeks, you can bet he will be going nuts in there when that leg starts to feel better!! He now has the dubious honour of being the most expensive pet in my life. And he is only one year old!!! This better be it for his ninja antics, that's all I can say.