Sunday, 2 August 2020

Good to Go

The past 2 1/2 months have been filled with sitting on my bum in my recliner, keeping Andi contained. That shattered leg has meant the majority of his time was spent in a dog kennel, with litter box, soft bed, toys and a hamster-style water bottle. It meant he wore a harness and leash whenever I got him out of the kennel, to keep his activity severely limited. All to allow the bones to heal as best possible.

And that effort has paid off. A week and a half ago, he had the 8 weeks post-op xrays to see how his leg was healing. My vet and the surgeon were both very pleased with how well the bone has healed. Andi got the go-ahead to start having some free time loose in the house. I was cautioned that because he had spent two months with no exercise, he would have muscle wasting and would need to gradually build up his strength.

Post-Op Xray day of surgery - look at all those little pieces!

8 Weeks Post-Op - lots of new bone formation!

They never watching him do flips in that kennel, and drag himself around the litter box, squeezed between it and the walls of the kennel with a catnip toy clutched in his mouth, with me cringing as I could see in my mind's eye that leg getting twisted and bent in all that frenetic play. But it never did. He jumped around, kicked at toys, scratched his ear (as soon as the splint was off) with that foot, and had been weight bearing on that leg from day one after surgery. What did happen was he kept his muscles in good condition.

For the most part, Andi was very well behaved with his incarceration. He didn't like being in the kennel, or wearing the harness and leash, but he tolerated it as few one year old boy cats can.  He would chirp and trill when I opened the door of kennel and he would stretch out, extending his front legs and toes, bowing as he slunk out, with his back legs following, poking straight out behind him one at a time as his hind end stretched and stepped out. He would go to the carpet and start scratching, giving those claws a good stretching too. While he did that, I would fasten the harness around his neck and chest, standing on the 4' leash so he couldn't get away unexpectedly.

After the 4 week xrays showed the bones were healing he graduated to eating in the kitchen instead of in the kennel. I would tie the leash to the handle of the oven, so he was in his usual spot. He was "loose" but not loose. He could move around in a very small space and that made him happy. He got to eat with the other cats, so a bit of normalcy in his upended life. He would get short walks into the living room, or into the bathroom with me. I would carry him down to the basement when I went to clean the big litter boxes, one foot on the leash to keep him captive. I would carry him to my bedroom to snuggle on the bed with Lila for grooming and a nap, while I sat there and scrolled through facebook on my phone. I would stand at the cat tree in the front room so he could sit on it, in the open window, to smell the fresh air and watch the birds and squirrels. I would take him to the water bowl for a big drink of water (because that water bottle in the kennel is for the occasional sip, not a good thirst quenching draught of clean cold water from a big bowl). Then I would carry him to the recliner and we would sit. He would lie down, groom himself, play with the leash, sleep under his blanket and generally be good. (How I don't have callouses on my bum, I don't know... I spent so much time sitting down, I think I am the one with muscle wasting.) 

So the 8 week xrays show good new bone formation and he has the go ahead to start his 'gradual return to normal activities'... which I labelled GR2F (Gradual Return to Freedom). The vets wanted him to have 15 - 20 minutes loose a couple of times a day, and for this program to gradually increase over 2 - 4 weeks. For the first few days, he got a couple of hours loose, in the morning and then after work in the evening. He was cautious with stairs and jumping, very smart of him, such a good boy. He ran though, on the flat, thrilled to not be tied down. Aska was very happy to have someone join in on the chase, as the old aunties aren't really into that anymore and she was tired of doing all the running alone. Which she did anyway, because a young cat needs to, but it is so much more fun with a partner in crime, you know.

After one week, he was loose all day long and spent a couple of nights in the kennel. Now he is out and back to normal. He still has some weakness in that leg, but not much and it is getting stronger every day. And we are all so much happier. And he has grown, stuck in that kennel! He is noticeably taller and longer than all the other cats. Lila is still heavier, as she is much stockier than he is. Andi is all lean and lanky, all long legs and whip thin. Not skinny, mind you, just lean. He eats 1/3 more at each meal than all the others do. Just a healthy young guy without any extra fat. He looks good.