The vet's office staff had requested that we bring her back the next morning so the primary veterinarian could see her, so I took her back. I even set my alarm and got there for the first appointment of the day. Those who know me know what a sacrifice that is. ;-) Back in with the cumbersome box, because we can't find our small animal carrier. More howls. Me talking to her the entire trip, trying to keep her calm.
The vet was pleased with her appearance. After having read her report from the substitute vet, he was expecting far worse condition. She was responsive to him, seeking attention, purring at his touch. Basically she melted everyone's heart with her quick return to an aware, loving, attention seeking cat. She still had a long way to go though.
They sent us home with a pet carrier that had been donated, and that made it a lot easier to drive her back and forth. The time between bringing her home Tuesday morning and her return to the vet's office Friday morning is a jumble of memories that I'm having trouble putting in order, so I'm simply going to share what I recall, in no particular order.
We had to drag her out to give her the prescribed eye drops 4 times a day. Sometimes she held still and one person could put them in, other times it took Tony and I and all four of our hands to hold her little head and get the drops in! It also gave us a brief view of her facial wounds, but never enough to really see what was happening. The pads of her paws had been burned when she was shocked, so she probably didn't want to walk any more than necessary
Her eyes were cloudy, the whiskers on the right side of her face were scorched and and curled, her nose was just not right. I didn't take any pictures of her during this time, I guess because it was hard to get her to stay out from under the bed.
Her left paw, at the wrist, was limp and bent in. The vet wasn't sure if it was permanent damage or simply still contracted from the electrical shock. As I'd pet her and scratch her head I noticed bumps getting bigger on her scalp. Do you see the outline of an M on her forehead? The bumps seemed to follow it.
She reluctantly ate the expensive cat food, but not until about 24 hours after bringing her home. I tried soaking her preferred dry food in homemade chicken broth, but she wouldn't eat it. After a couple of days of the expensive cat food, she didn't want any more of that either, so I had to find the aisle in my grocery store that sells baby food. She liked the chicken and sweet potato, but nothing else.
The bigger problem I noticed was that she wasn't in need of the litter box-at all. I told the vet's office staff this each day when they called to check on her. They said as long as she wasn't throwing up, it wasn't time to be concerned yet. It was Wednesday night, before she finally came out and used the litter box. It took a while for me to recognize it, but she had a distinctive pattern to her walking as she accommodated the injured paw.
She must have walked toward the outer part of this pole?
Thursday night she started licking her paw. When I got up early Friday morning, she had licked away all of the skin at the wrist. I called the vet and he got us in right away. Back into the cat carrier. More yowls, more pressing her nose against the fabric trying to get out. By the time we got there, she had peeled away a flap of skin from her nose!
The vet looked at the paw and said she'd need to have it amputated. Ugh! No! He saw the flap of skin on her nose and trimmed it off. If only he could just trim the dead stuff away from her wrist...
So the dreaded question, how much do we spend to keep her alive? Prior to this event happening, I would have said no more than $500. Since we had spent almost that up to this point, I was very distraught over what to do. The vet suggested I leave her there and let me go home to discuss it with Tony. He'd give me an estimate of the costs and then we could call him to give our answer.
Tony said no. We aren't spending thirteen hundred dollars on a cat! I understood his perspective, but I couldn't bring myself to deny her the surgery that will keep infection out. This would be a good time to inform you that the whole arm would have to come off, not at the wrist, but at the shoulder. The vet said if he amputated just above the wrist, she'd walk on the stump and create callouses that would then slough off and leave her open to infection. It had to come off at the shoulder and that meant more money.
I pleaded with my eyes, knowing that if God hadn't wanted her to live, she would have died from the shock or the fall. Yeah, $1300 is a lot of money, but we don't think twice about spending it on a vacation. I'd just cut back on spending elsewhere. He still wasn't convinced. I told him I couldn't call and tell the vet not to do anything, so he did it. He sat the kids down and told them that bringing her home without the surgery meant she'd be dying soon. Big tears, in FOUR sets of eyes. I was writing notes to him while the kids asked questions that he answered. I reminded him of all the ways she was showing us her will to live. Yes, the 4 of us got our way (I should say 5, Mim's vote has to be counted!) and Tony called the vet and said he changed his mind, please do the surgery.
Four hours later (he had other things to do first, the surgery didn't take 4 hours) he called with the news that it had gone well and she had come out of sedation quite well, but he wanted to keep her overnight to ensure that everything else was working. I picked her up late morning Saturday, with her fur shaved from the mid section of the left side of her body, all the way up under her chin, and a row of stitches across where her shoulder used to be.
See how long the incision was?
Cloudy eyes and curled whiskers.
Once home, we let the cat out of the bag (sorry, I had to say it once) and she hobbled down the hallway to my room and crawled under my bed-again. Only now she was more willing to come out and eat, use the litter box, 'allow' us to pet her and then return to her hidey hole. She was eating a lot of food! Lots of repair happening within.
The bumps on the top of her head were definitely burn marks that worked their way out and killed all the skin, almost exactly along the M on her head and that eventually fell off. The skin on her nose sloughed off again. Her curly whiskers grew out and straightened. She's missing parts of her nose, but it doesn't seem to be affecting her.
I'm thrilled to report that her personality came through intact and she has regained her playfulness. She still bats things around on the floor, even if it is with one paw, and she still waits to ambush an unsuspecting passer by. She gets wiled eyed and frisky every morning, and then repeats again almost every night.
She's no longer eating huge quantities of food, so I think everything has healed. We thought she might never want to go outside again, but she tries to trick us into letting her out. I've caught myself a few times mindlessly reaching for the door handle as she stretches up the door, indicating she wants out. I do take her out with supervision. She prefers to do her duty out in the dirt, rather than the litter box. She likes watching what's going on outside, but I'm not ready to let her have free time outside just yet.
The other day, my youngest was watching her, and she got away because she's too fast for him-even with 3 legs! We thought she had gone back across the fence, but about 15 minutes later, she showed herself again, and had not gone over the fence. I don't know if she can remember what happened to her the last time she went across the fence, but I hope she knows enough to not do it ever again! With one missing leg, I don't think she can outrun predators, or climb trees fast enough to get away.
So, $1700 later, we have the best 3 legged cat in town! She's valuable to us in more than just financial means. She brings us joy and she's content in our family. She still has a distinctive sound as she walks down the hallway, but she can jump onto the bed or couch and back down again as though nothing every happened. I'd say The End, but I think it's more aptly said, To Be Continued.
Hunkered down between the couch and end table, waiting for the best time to reach out with her remaining front leg and attack me!