Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ode to Kitty

Kitty didn't show up in the evening to come inside. That happens every once in a while. She's an outdoor cat during the day and sometimes she gets a little distracted and doesn't show up until after everyone has gone to bed, but not often. The next morning I expected her to be hungry by the front door demanding to be let inside. She wasn't. I searched the neighborhood. She never goes more than a 2 block radius of home, but I couldn't find her, couldn't hear her anywhere. I walked the neighborhood the next day as well, knocked on doors, talked to people. No luck. I had the neighbors open up their back sheds to look, just in case she was trapped back there. After 3 days I called the pound, at days 5 and 9 I went there to see if she was picked up. Nope.

I was sure she was dead, I looked in all the ditches, assuming she was hit by a car.
At day 13 she was on the doorstep! Weakly meowing to come in, hungry, thin, dirty, and limping. I was so excited to see her! I let her in and got her some food right away. That's when I saw her leg and my heart sank. Mangled, with a large open wound, and exposed, obviously broken bones, shattered beyond repair.

Kitty ate some food, looked at me, and hopped to the farthest spot in the closet (she never goes there) to lay down. She was shaking with weakness. Poor thing. I finished getting ready for work and took her to the vet. They cleaned it, debrided it, trimmed the bone back, and wrapped it. She looked so funny with this giant cast-like bandage on her back leg. I picked her up from the vet feeling confident that things would work out. I took her back every 3 days x 3 and the third time they showed me how to do the dressing changes. It didn't look too hard, but it was definitely a 2 person job.

It was my turn to change the dressing on her back leg at home. She was not happy with me already because I was finally able to get her to swallow a pain pill (no easy task), but when I was able to get the dressing off, the foot looked and smelled terrible. The foot was swollen, obviously suffering from compartment syndrome and some gangrene. The smell made my teammate in this feat nauseated and we had to take a break and wait for backup. When backup arrived, we attempted redressing this wound. This was truly traumatizing to all of us, including kitty. It was so painful that we could not contain her, even with a pain pill on board. We worked with her for 2 hours, unable to redress this incredibly painful wound. It made me cry, inflicting such pain on such an innocent animal. It was a truly terrible experience. We weren't successful and placed her in her kennel for the night. Poor thing, she hated me after that evening. Her eyes were so wide with fear, I couldn't bear it.

I took her to a different, more experienced vet the next morning. He took a look at her leg and recommended amputation. Following the course of treatment that she was currently on likely was going to include many complications including osteomyelitis (infection of the bone). The cost of amputation would be $870! On top of the $300 I already spent on her, that would make her > $1000 cat! If I went through with this amputation, barring complication, she would have decreased running speed, decreased ability to climb trees, and couldn't defend herself as well. I would feel uncomfortable leaving her outside to fend in this neighborhood, and she would absolutely hate living indoors all the time.

What a terrible decision to make. I put her down this friday morning around 10am. Its silly how much one can get attached to a cat. She wasn't a cuddly in-your-face cat, she held her own most of the time. But when I was feeling down she always seemed to know and would push her way into my lap for those special occasions. I miss Kitty